Superb St Eunan’s steamrolled the surprisingly feeble challenge of 13- man Naomh Conaill to take their second Donegal double title since 1972.
St. Eunan’s 1-11 Naomh Conaill 0-4
By Gerry McLaughlin
Last week, their hurlers shocked hot favourites Setanta and yesterday their young lions really came of age.
And this was their first time to take the Dr Mguire Cup back to Letterkenny in seven years-which is an eternity for this famous footballing citadel.
The winners dominated from start to finish and the losers cup of woe was complete when Eunan Doherty and Charles McGuinness were lined for two second yellow card offences in the last quarter
But this one-sided affair was well over by that stage, as the lively Letterkeny lads cooly retained possession and saw this game out at their leisure.
An early goal from clever corner forward Eoin McGeehin in the 24th minute was a huge score in a drab first half, and it gave the winners a valuable cushion which they never lost.
It was also the day that Naomh Conaill’s great veterans finally showed their age and Leo McLoone apart, did not have any real impact on the game.
They could only manage two points from play with team captain Ciaran Thompson landing two long range frees and his late goal bound shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by St Eunan’s county keeper Sean Patton.
But their lack of resistance was one of the most surprising aspects of this affair.
Eunan’s, who scored 1-10 of their 1-11 from play, had loads of heroes.
20-year-old Shane O’Donnell was the official man of the match, but he had strong competition from Kieran Tobin,, Caolan Ward, Niall O’Donnell and Caolan Ward in particular.
Ciaran Thompson tried his best for the losers as did Leo McLoone, but they just did not function as a unit on the day.
In contrast, Eunan’s were cool composed and clinical and never looked in any real danger.
St Eunan’s were the more purposeful team from the start-but it took a full four minutes of really turgid stuff, before Eoin McGeehin got on end of a very good move-took a pass from Padraig McGettigan and punched his side into the lead.
The Letterkenny lads were on top and carved open the Naomh Conaill defence when Aaron Deeney who combined with Conor O’Donnell (Snr) who put his younger brother Shane through on goal.
But, just as the net beckoned Naomh Conaill keeper Stephen McGrath superbly smothered the shot.
The holders finally got off the mark in the 13th minute when Ciaran Thompson hoisted over a 40 metre free high into the sky after Leo McLoone was fouled to level matters.
Eunan’s had most of the possession but both sides were playing boring lateral football as the game dozed into the first water break.
Naomh Conaill also landed three balls straight into the hands of Eunan’s keeper Sean Patton.
But at the other end Shane O’Donnell hoofed over a superb curling point to put Letterkenny back in the lead.
And then we had a really big score in the 24th minute when a poor kick out from Stephen McGrath was caught by Anthony Thompson who was dispossessed by Peter Tobin.
He found Peter McEniff whose ball over the top found Eoin McGeehin in acres of space in a Naomh Conaill defence that was as wide open as Bundoran on the 12thWeekend.
The corner forward had ice in the veins as he cooly picked his spot.
The winners were well worth their half time lead of 1-3 to 0-3 as Eunan’s captain Niall O’Donnell and Leo McLoone (a great effort) swapped points.
Usually, the Naomh Conaill side put in a turbo charged third quarter-but instead it was their youthful conquerors who drove home their advantage.
It began with a well converted 45 and Kieran Tobin added to their advantage.
Naomh Conaill threw on Brendan McDyer and Keelan McGill but it had little impact.
It got worse for the losers when they lost Eunan Doherty to a second yellow card after a matter with Padraig McGettigan.
Niall O’Donnell and Conor O’Donnell added more points as the increasingly confident winners cantered clear.
Thompson pulled hard on a loose ball and McGettigan turned it over the bar as Naomh Conaill also lost Charles McGuinness to a second yellow card.
And, the scenes of elation that greeted this first Eunan’s victory in seven years were something to remember for many years.
St Eunan’s (0-145): Sean Patton; Peter McEniff, Caolan Ward, Aaron Deeney; Kieran Tobin (0-2) Conor O’Donnell (Snr) (0-1), Peter Devine; Darragh Mulgrew, Kevin Kealy; Eoin Dowling, Shane O’Donnell (0-2) Sean McVeigh; Padraig McGettigan (0-1) Niall O’Donnell (0-3),Eoin McGeehin (1-1). Conor O’Donnell for Eoin McGeehin, Eamon Doherty for Aaron Deeney (50), Sean McGettigan for Kevin Kealy (56), Anthony Gallagher for Peter McEniff (59), Ronan McGeehin for Padraig McGettigan (61)
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Ultan Doherty, Jason Campbell, Kevin McGettigan: Ethan O’Donnell, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Leo McLoone, Ciaran Thompson (0-32f); Eunan Doherty, Ohdran Doherty, Marty Boyle; Jeaic MacCeallbhui, Charles McGuinness, Kieran Gallagher. Subs; Brendan McDyer for Marty Boyle and Keelan McGill for Kieran Gallagher (43), Dermot Molloy for Eunan Doherty (42), Nathan Byrne for Eoin Waide (52), John O”Malley for Odhran Doherty (60)
Enda McFeely (St Mary’s Convoy)