Big finish proves enough for St Eunan's
St Eunan’s 1-7 Naomh Conaill 0-9:St Eunan’s lifted their 13th Donegal senior football championship title with a late, late win over Naomh Conaill of Glenties in MacCumhaill Park.
The winners trailed by two points as the game entered the final 10 minutes, but county star Rory Kavanagh lifted his side to set up what proved to be crucial score of the game, a goal from young Lee McMonagle.
It put St Eunan’s ahead for the first time in the second half. However, there was still plenty of late drama as man-of-the- match Daragh Gallagher levelled almost immediately for Naomh Conaill.
Seconds later St Eunan’s were reduced to 14 men when substitute David McGinley was shown a straight red after a clash with Marty Boyle off the ball.
It looked as if Naomh Conaill were back in the ascendancy but then disaster struck in the 58th minute for the Glenties men as a sideline kick by Brendan McDyer was misdirected and went behind for a 45 and Mark McGowan stepped up and powered over what proved to be the winner.
Daragh Gallagher had a chance to equalise as the game entered added time, but his effort went just wide of the posts.
Naomh Conaill can only have themselves to blame as they dominated possession and Leon Thompson gave the St Eunan’s full-back line a torrid time. But they failed to avail of two good goal chances and also kicked 11 wides over the course of the game.
It was a special day for St Eunan’s veteran John Haran, who was winning his sixth Dr Maguire Cup medal, and he led by example alongside Kavanagh at midfield.
St Eunan’s were 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after nine minutes, but Naomh Conaill dominated the rest of the first half, with Leon Thompson and especially Gallagher impressing as they led 0-6 to 0-4 at the interval.
It looked as if they were on their way when they stretched that lead to 0-8 to 0-5 early in the second half, with Dermot Molloy hitting one wonderful point, but St Eunan’s kept plugging away and McGowan had a good point from play.
Then came the goal from McMonagle and the exciting closing minutes which saw St Eunan’s celebrating and Naomh Conaill experiencing deep, deep disappointment.
“It is absolutely brilliant. It is an absolutely brilliant birthday present,” said Eunan’s veteran Haran, who celebrated his 36th birthday yesterday.
“We were in a big hole at half-time and I thought we were in trouble and even into the second half.
“But fair play to young Lee McMonagle for scoring the goal; it was only a half-chance and he stuck it away well. He is a very good young footballer and he has a very bright future in Donegal football.
“We needed the goal, because we were out of it and in trouble. But fair play also to Ross , he did not get much ball all day.
“It was the only decent ball sent into him all day and he won it well and laid it off well to Lee.”