Milford eked out a narrow win over St Eunan’s as the team’s respective Division One campaigns came to an understated ending at O’Donnell Park this evening.
St Eunan’s 0-15 Milford 1-13
by Chris McNulty at O’Donnell Park
Joey Cullen’s goal, netted in the 16th minute, was the big score of a game that will not linger too much longer in the memories.
Milford – who have secured a top six finish in Division 1 after a solid League campaign – will make their return to the senior championship, after a 25-year absence, on Saturday-week when they take on Sean MacCumhaills, while St Eunan’s will host Gaoth Dobhair next Sunday in a huge heavyweight clash.
It was evident that the two had bigger fish to fry and a low-key evening was put into context with the absence of an admission charge at the gate.
Even the scoreboard remained switched off.
With that championship fixture against Gaoth Dobhair just 10 days away, St Eunan’s lined out here with a shadow first XV on show. As this one was being played out, most of those who could be expected to be in the senior trenches next weekend were being put through their paces in a training session.
Maxi Curran oversaw the action on the back pitch with reserve team manager David O’Herlihy and senior selector Charlie Mulgrew patrolling the sidelines.
St Eunan’s were the brighter in the opening quarter until Cullen’s goal swung the pendulum.
Cullen tucked past Matthew Gallagher after a high ball in from Cathal McGettigan broke into his path.
Before that, a brace apiece from Jamie Doherty and Lee McMonagle gave St Eunan’s a 0-4 to 0-1 advantage.
When Cullen goaled, Milford found something of a rhythm. Darragh Black prodded over and a Cathal McGettigan double had them 1-5 to 0-5 in front.
But St Eunan’s made a real fist of it with excellent points by Jordan O’Dowd and Cormac Finn bringing them to within a point at the interval, where Milford led 1-5 to 0-7.
McMonagle and Micheál Martin are former senior championship winners for the black and amber and their strength was shown with a raft of replacements at the interval including SFC winners Connall O’Boyle and Paddy McGowan.
There were nine substitutions at the break, four for St Eunan’s and five for their visitors and, just before the midway mark of the second period, veteran John Horan – an eight-time Dr Maguire winner – was sent into the fray and the hosts added Michael Miller for the last 13 minutes.
Miller registered with his first touch to bring Eunan’s to within a point again – after Luke Barrett’s trot points and scores from Black and Ryan McMahon looked to have Milford far enough away.
Three quick fire St Eunan’s points, via the boots of Doherty, Brian McIntyre and Miller, had it on the knife’s edge.
Milford made eight substitutions in all and one of those, Kyle Black, hit two points to seal it, though Miller was off target with a last ditch chance to earn a share of the spoils.
The minds, if they weren’t already, quickly turned to Championship.
St Eunan’s: Matthew Gallagher; Sean Ryan, Oisin Carr, Sean Halvey; James Kelly, Conor Moore, Darragh Toal; Sean Breen, Jordan O’Dowd (0-3); Cormac Finn (0-1), Jamie Doherty (0-3, 1f), Brian McIntyre (0-1); Lee McMonagle (0-2), Micheál Martin (0-1), Eoin McGeehan. Subs: Oisin O’Boyle, Connall O’Boyle, Ryan Hilferty and Paddy McGowan (0-2f) for Breen, Finn, Kelly and Ryan (all half-time), John Haran for McMonagle (42), Michael Miller (0-1) for Doherty (47).
Milford: Caolan McGettigan; Conor McNulty, Barry McNulty, Conor McHugh; Tony McNamee, Sean Black, David Curley; Joey Cullen (1-0), Luke Barrett (0-3, 2f); Cathal McGettigan (0-3, 2f), Christopher Barrett (0-1), Paddy Peoples; Darragh Black (0-2), Kane Barrett, Pauric Curley (0-1). Subs: Ryan McMahon (0-1), Ronan Docherty, James Doyle, Kyle Black (0-2), Caolan Bolton for S.Black, C.McNulty, McNamee, P.Curley and Caolan McGettigan (all half-time); Enda McHugh, Patrick Ferry, Lorcan Friel for Cathal McGettigan, Cullen and Black (52).Tags: