Sean MacCumhaills caused a stir as they saw off St Michael’s to make it into a first Donegal SFC semi-final in 14 years.
Sean MacCumhaills 2-10 St Michael’s 0-13
By Chris McNulty at O’Donnell Park
The necks are craning in their direction after a three-point win over a disappointing St Michael’s.
Martin Gallagher and Martin O’Reilly netted the goals in the first-half and MacCumhaills – who were priced at 11/4 beforehand – were never behind over the hour.
Oisin Gallen (pictured) kicked six points, but there was so much good about his performance aside from his scores. Gallen sprayed the ball around gloriously at times and was the focal point of the engine.
It was a day when, once again, St Michael’s have been left stew on a Championship exit and they surely wonder around The Bridge if this group has missed their chance of Dr Maguire. The kicked 11 wides here and it would have been an injustice had MacCumhaills been caught in a sometimes hot-tempered conclusion.
MacCumhaills served notice of their intentions with he opening goal in the 12th minute.
Martin Gallagher worked a one-two with Aaron Kelly and his finish was emphatic. Gallagher made no mistake, driving powerfully beyond Mark Anthony McGinley, who could do little.
After St Michael’s hit back to draw level, MacCumhaills finished the first half how they started it – scoring 1-2.
Oisin Gallen landed a brace of frees and, in the first minute of time added on, they hit goal number two.
An incisive Gallen pass out of defence set Kelly on his way. With the space opening up in front of him, Kelly surged forward and off-loaded to Gavin Gallagher.
The former Donegal U21 did well to offload to O’Reilly, who neatly tucked into the roof of the net.
This was a repeat of a 2017 group game won 3-9 to 0-13 by St Michael’s. The Creeslough-Dunfanaghy men went to the dressing rooms chasing a five-point deficit and having kicked seven wides in the first half-an-hour.
St Michael’s had little trouble navigating the group phase, where they made light of Termon, Four Masters and Malin, but another Division 2 outfit in MacCumhaills was an entirely different – and more difficult proposition.
Luke Gavigan opened the scoring with only 23 seconds played – and it set a tone for the Twin Towns side.
Gallagher’s cracking finish gave them a real spur and that came after a wonder save by McGinley prevented Oisin Gallen from netting the game’s first goal.
MacCumhaills were energised and charged all at once as they began and there were few ‘keepers who could have reacted in as sharp and accurate a manner as McGinley.
Aaron Kelly’s attempt at a point careered down off an upright and the lurking Gallen was poised to steer home from the rebound. McGinley somehow reached over and clawed away.
The St Michael’s response was excellent. Michael Langan, Colin McFadden, Oisin Langan and Andrew Kelly brought them level for the first time.
Amid that flurry of scores, former Donegal ace Christy Toye was denied a goal. Toye got in through a glut of defenders
Gallen arched over three points, one of them a nerveless 45-metre free, to keep MacCumhaills in command with St Michael’s now knocking at the door.
Goalscorer Gallagher had been forced off in the first half and MacCumhaills lost Gary Wilson to a 54th minute black card.
St Michael’s twice came to within three points down the home straight, but the wobbles were steamed when Steven O’Reilly as picked out by Gallen’s razor-sharp eye to fire over.
Substitute Darren O’Leary showed the value of experience and composure as he elected to fist over as Gallen and Brian Lafferty combined to put him clear. With only McGinley to beat, O’Leary lofted over and the looks to the timepieces from the MacCumhaills faithful were longing.
Soon, though, they were up from their seats; many of them toasting this sort of a day for the first time and others getting a reminder of how things used to be.
That they deserved this win was perhaps their greatest achievement and now the last four beckons again.
Sean MacCumhaills: Eoin Gallen; Chris Gallagher, Martin Gallagher (1-0), Conor Griffin; Luke Gavigan (0-1), Ronan McMenamin, Martin O’Reilly (1-0); Gary Dunnion, Padhraic Patton; Gary Wilson, Steven O’Reilly (0-1), Aaron Kelly; Brian Lafferty (0-1), Oisin Gallen (0-6, 4f)), Gavin Gallagher. Subs: Rory Dunleavy for M.Gallagher (24), Darren O’Leary (0-1) for Wilson (black card, 54), Stephen Mulligan for Lafferty (60).
St Michael’s:Mark Anthony McGinley; Jamie Hunter, Stephen Doak, Michael Gallagher; Michael McGinley, Ciaran Gallagher, Oisin Langan (0-1); Christy Toye, Michael Langan (0-5, 4f); Daniel McLaughlin (0-3, 2f), Martin McElhinney, Colin McFadden (0-1); Hugh O’Donnell, Andrew Kelly (0-2f) Odhran McFadden (0-1). Subs: Liam Paul Ferry for O’Donnell (43), Michael Cannon for O.McFadden (43), Ruairi Friel for Hunter (59), Liam Kelly for M.Gallagher (59).
Referee:Michael McShane (Kilcar).Tags: