EOIN MCGEEHIN netted a hat-trick as St Eunan’s powered past Milford and into a first Donegal SFC semi-final in four years.
St Eunan’s 5-22 Milford 0-11
By Chris McNulty at Sean MacCumhaill Park
From the moment Darragh Mulgrew (pictured) fired in the first of four St Eunan’s goals, there was an air of inevitability as the black and amber strolled into the semi-finals.
There had been questions about St Eunan’s firepower coming into this one, but they answered that rather emphatically.
McGeehin put the final nail in the coffin with the fifth St Eunan’s goal give minutes from the end as he tapped in from close range.
A first-half brace by McGeehin, added to an earlier goal by Mulgrew, had St Eunan’s with the toes of both feet in the semi-finals as they headed down the tunnel boasting a 3-12 to 0-7 win at half-time.
The Letterkenny side hit 1-5 in the final four minutes of the first half.
McGeehin’s second goal, St Eunan’s third, came in the 28th minute. McGeehin collected from Conor O’Donnell’s pass before leaving Gary Merritt for dead and a magnificent shot found the top corner.
Conor O’Donnell and Caolan ward tacked on points to put 14 between them and, just six minutes into the second half, James Kelly palmed home a fourth St Eunan’s goal and they were firmly on their way.
St Eunan’s stole an early march through Mulgrew’s fourth-minute goal.
Conor O’Donnell and McGeehin did the initial grafting with McGeehin’s smart offload picked up by the in-rushing Mulgrew, who made no mistake with a neat finish. The move began with Mulgrew fetching a Shaun Patton kick-out and he sprinted all the way to get on the end of it again.
Niall O’Donnell hit three points as St Eunan’s raced into a six-point lead by the 10th minute.
Two from Christopher Barrett and another by Luke Barrett, all in the space of 90 seconds, gave Milford a real lift, but the good work was undone when St Eunan’s hit a second goal.
James Kelly appeared to have attempted a point, but the ball dropped invitingly for McGeehin. He still had some work to do as he took receipt of the ball, but the youngster pirouetted and fired past Caolan McGettigan to open up a 2-4 to 0-4 advantage.
Their recent group stage win over Four Masters was the first time in 26 years for Milford to taste a senior championship victory. The Moyle View men, the Group C table toppers, were appearing on the quarter-final stage for the first time.
St Eunan’s were without the suspended Rory Kavanagh – sent of in last week’s drawn against St Michael’s – and the injured Rory Carr, whose shoulder injury last weekend has brought an end to his season.
Richard Thornton, the St Eunan’s manager, drafted in 2012 Dr Maguire-winning captain Michéal Martin – who managed the club’s reserves to a quarter-final win over Termon earlier today – and stationed the 33-year-old at the edge of the square, with McGeehin and Niall O’Donnell either side of him.
McGeehin was denied a hat-trick when McGettigan intervened with a strong save, 12 minutes from the end, at a time when Milford were 21 points in arrears.
St Eunan’s withdrew Niall O’Donnell with the game already sewn up and there was still time for them to add another goal on a day when they had 11 different scorers.
All bar one point of their tally came from play and, all of a sudden, after a 26-point win, the thought plates might well have shifted.
Milford: Caolan McGettigan; TJ Evesson, James Doyle, Gary Merritt; Gavin Grier, Paddy Peoples, Marty Doyle; Joey Cullen, Luke Barrett (0-3, 2f); Ryan McMahon, Christopher Barrett (0-3, 1f), Cathal McGettigan (0-1); Daragh Black (0-2), Kane Barrett (0-2), Kyle Black. Subs: Conor Coll, Rory O’Donnell and Conor McHugh for Peoples, M.Doyle and K.Black (half-time), Ronan Docherty for McMahon (44), Pauric Curley for Merritt (53), Sean Black for Grier (57).
St Eunan’s: Shaun Patton; Conor Parke (0-1), Conor Morrison (0-1), Aaron Deeney; Sean Ryan, Eamonn Doherty, Darragh Mulgrew (1-3); Conor O’Donnell (0-2), Sean McGettigan; Caolan Ward (0-2), James Kelly (1-3), Brian McIntyre (0-1); Niall O’Donnell (0-6, 1f), Michéal Martin, Eoin McGeehin (3-1). Subs: Conall Dunne (0-1) for Martin (42), Jamie Doherty (0-1) and Peter McEniff for N.O’Donnell and Ryan (49), Sean Halvey for Parke and Sean McVeigh for Mulgrew (55), Conor Moore for Deeney (59).
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh).Tags: