A pair of goals just before half-time condemned St Eunan’s College to the exit doors of the Danske Bank MacRory Cup.
St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny 1-6 St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon 2-7
By Chris McNulty at O’Donnell Park
Ryan McCabe and Shea Daly netted as St Patrick’s Academy from Dungannon booked their place in the quarter-finals.
The concession of those goals will have them agonising for some time through the corridors of St Eunan’s. They’d been just two points behind, 0-5 to 0-3, when St Pat’s hit their opening goal and Colm McFadden’s men out-scored their opponents 1-3 to 0-2 in the second half.
The game turned firmly in St Pat’s favour on 28 minutes when McCabe nipped ahead of St Eunan’s goalkeeper Eoghan Jordan and, in spite of a despairing goal-line dive from Cormac Finn, McCabe had tucked to the net.
Before St Eunan’s had time to shake their heads clear from that set-back, they suffered a second hammer blow, almost instantly.
Tomás McCormack’s shot clipped the top of the crossbar and Daly beat Jordan to make it 2-5 to 0-3 at the break.
There felt a danger that the day could become something of an ordeal as the participants headed for the refreshments.
St Eunan’s had other ideas and Conor O’Donnell – on as a substitute in the first half – was put through by Oran Winston, just five minutes into the second half. O’Donnell shot high past Lorcan Quinn, the St Pat’s goalkeeper, a stylish finish re-igniting the hopes of the natives.
This was a first home MacRory Cup game for St Eunan’s College in 50 years – their first since a 1-12 to 3-3 win over PCC, Falcarragh in 1969.
St Pat’s had a big goal chance midway through the second half, but Jordan denied Oisin McGee before Michael Coyle came to the rescue for St Eunan’s with a goal-line block from the rebound.
St Pat’s lost Ryan McCabe to a black card and, when Padraig McGettigan and Eoin Dowling, with a delicious effort from the stand side, St Eunan’s were just a goal behind, but they couldn’t quite plug the gap.
Shane O’Donnell posted the opening St Eunan’s College score in the 13th minute, swinging over after a tidy move from the hosts. O’Donnell had been struggling with an injury in the lead-up and had to be withdrawn having appeared to tweak his hamstring in the process of scoring.
By then, St Patrick’s led 0-3 to 0-1 as goalkeeper Lorcan Quinn, with a beautiful ’45, Ryan McCabe and Ronan McHugh found the range.
Quinn was off cue with two more placed balls and Kieran Kilfeather landed a point down the other end – at a time when Winston was unmarked on the edge of the St Pat’s square – to bring St Eunan’s back to within a point.
St Patrick’s Academy included the likes of Lorcan Quinn, Matthew McCusker, Lorcan Kilpatrick, Louis Conlon, Oisin McHugh, Ronan Duffin and Ryan McCabe who were all All-Ireland Under-17 winners with Tyrone.
That alone was enough to outline the strength of the Dungannon students.
St Pat’s had been wasteful, with five wides in the opening 20 minutes and when Conor O’Donnell – the replacement for his name-sake, Shane – scorched through the middle to get on the mark, St Eunan’s were just one in arrears again.
Soon, though, the green flag was up and the punch was removed from St Eunan’s right on half-time.
St Eunan’s stirred in the second half and made a real fist of it before the curtain fell when McHugh slotted over a free.
St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny: Eoghan Jordan; Matthew Coyle, Anthony Gallagher, Jamie Grant; Jack Gallagher, Kieran Tobin, Keelan Dunleavy; Padraig McGettigan (0-2, 2f), Ronan Frain; Kieran Kilfeather (0-1), Oisin Cassidy, Eoin Dowling (0-1); Oran Winston, Shane O’Donnell (0-1), Cormac Finn. Subs: Conor O’Donnell (0-1) for S.O’Donnell (17), Shane Monaghan for Winston (42), Dylan Doogan for Tobin (48).
St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon: Lorcan Quinn (0-1, 1 ’45); Ciaran Begley, Matthew McCusker, Sean McGeary; Lorcan Kilpatrick, Colin Devlin, Oisin McHugh; Micheál O’Neill, Ronan Duffin (0-1); Tomás McCormack (0-1), Neil Kilpatrick, Oisin McGee; Shea Daly (1-0), Ronan McHugh (0-3, 2f), Ryan McCabe (1-1, 1f). Subs: Luke Donnelly for McCabe (black card, 44), Louis Conlon for McGeary (47), Shane Donnelly for McGee (52), Sean McLaughlin for O.McHugh (60), Niall McMurray for Devlin (60).
Referee: Dan Mullin (Derry).