Burt and St. Eunan’s played out a close encounter in the group stage of the Donegal Senior Hurling Championship on Tuesday in Hibernian Park and Mark McGavigan’s late goal proved key for Burt.
Burt 1-12 St. Eunan’s 1-10
Playing with the advantage of a strong wind, Burt raced into an early lead with a long range point from Ciaran Finn, a 5th minute free converted by Niall Campbell and a well worked score from Ronan McDermott.
Thomas Hartnett opened the visitors’ account on 12 minutes, but this was cancelled by another Campbell free. St. Eunan’s came into the game strongly in the middle of the half.
Colm Flood and Cormac Finn scored fine individual points in the 15th and 16th minutes, and Conor O’Grady levelled matters with a free shortly after. Ronan McDermott restored the home team’s lead when he ran through and pointed after 20 minutes. Both sides had good goal chances, with Niall Campbell foiled by a St. Eunan’s block and Cormac Finn having his shot scrambled off the Burt line. Ciaran Finn and O’Grady exchanged further points.
A late flurry of points just before half time gave Burt a significant lead heading into half-time. Enda McDermott took advantage of a defensive error on 28 minutes, and Campbell struck two frees to leave the score at 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.
St. Eunan’s reduced the margin quickly on the resumption with an O’Grady free and another Hartnett strike. Campbell pointed again for Burt. At this stage the visitors were winning possession but were very wasteful in front of goal, missing a number of chances under pressure from the Burt defence. In the 41st minute Ciaran Finn was sent off for a second yellow card following a high tackle, but his dismissal seemed to inspire his teammates.
Two O’Grady points were matched by scores from Campbell and Ronan McDermott. Midway through the half Burt goalkeeper Paul Burns pulled off an outstanding save from close range when Eugene Organ had fielded a high ball and shot for goal. At the other end only last ditch defending from Sean McVeigh prevented Ronan McDermott from scoring after a searing run from midfield.
The visitors seemed to strike a major blow in the 53rd minute when a long range O’Grady free found its way to the net to level the game.
However, the decisive score came from Burt two minutes later when a brilliant running and passing move started by Stephen Gillespie was finished for a goal by Mark McGavigan.
St. Eunan’s threw everything at Burt in the closing stages, but the home defence held firm, typified by a match saving hook by Enda McDermott on Kevin Kealy when a goal looked likely.
Brian McIntyre reduced the gap to two points on 58 minutes, but St. Eunan’s could not close the gap any further.
Burt now go on to play MacCumhaills in the final round of group games on Saturday, while St. Eunan’s take on Buncrana. Holders Setanta have already qualified for the semi-finals.
Burt: Paul Burns, Martin McGrath, Padraig Doherty, Dara Grant, Benny Harrigan, Joe Boyle, Stephen Gillespie, Ciaran Finn (0-2), Mark Dowds (0-1), Ciaran Brady, Caolan McDermott (0-1), Shane McDaid, Niall Campbell (0-4, 0-3 frees), Ronan McDermott (0-2), Enda McDermott (0-1). Subs: Gareth Quinn, Kevin Glynn, Mark McGavigan (1-0), Sean Murphy, Darren Gallagher, David O’Donnell.
St. Eunan’s: Colm Breathnach, Brian McIntyre (0-1), Adie Gaffey, Conor Parke, Conor Kelly, Seán McVeigh, Gearoid Leahy, Colm Flood (0-1), Ryan Hilferty, Sean Halvey, Conor O’Donnell, Thomas Hartnett (0-2), Cormac Finn (0-1), Conor O’Grady (1-5, 1-4 frees), Eugene Organ. Subs: Kevin Kealy, Ciaran Kelly, Jordan Barr, Eoin Scanlon, Shane Maguire, Cian Durack, Cian Randles, John McIntyre, Cormac Hartnett, Jake Whelan, Des Kenny.