St Eunan’s 1-7
Naomh Conaill 0-9
Mark McGowan was the scoring hero as the wing-back kicked a ’45 between the posts in the 58th minute to seal St Eunan’s triumph in yesterday’s Donegal county senior decider in Sean MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey.
McGowan kept his nerve to land the point that claimed St Eunan’s first county title since 2009, when they completed a three-in-a-row, and the 14th senior crown in the Letterkenny club’s history.
The defeat was heartbreaking for Naomh Conaill after a wayward sideline ball by Brendan McDyer ended up going out over the end line and resulting in the awarding of the ’45 to St Eunan’s which McGowan converted. Naomh Conaill did have a chance to tie the game but Darragh Gallagher’s effort from a difficult free from distance tailed wide.
St Eunan’s had to cope with adversity before securing victory as they trailed by 0-8 to 0-5 with 20 minutes remaining and were also reduced to fourteen men after David McGinley was sent-off in the 51st minute. Yet they kept battling and the critical score arrived moments before McGinley’s sending-off when St Eunan’s pounced for the only goal of the game.
It was a sublime strike with Lee McMonagle blasting a terrific shot to the net after Ross Wherity gathered a fine pass by Rory Kavanagh and fed it off to McMonagle.
Man-of-the-match Darragh Gallagher tied the game in the aftermath of that McMonagle goal and there would only be one more point, that strike from a ’45 by McGowan for St Eunan’s.
A St Eunan’s player offers his hand to a dejected Leo McLoone of Naomh Conaill. Pic: INPHO/Presseye/Andrew Paton
The game was a fiercely-contested battle between two clubs who had met in the 2005 final, which Naomh Conaill won after a replay, and the 2010 decider which St Eunan’s were victorious in. St Eunan’s made the early running and when Sean McVeigh pointed in the 9th minute, they were 0-3 to 0-1 to the good.
St Eunan’s were still in front when they lead by 0-4 to 0-3 after county player Rory Kavanagh lofted over an excellent point in the 23rd minute but Naomh Conaill finished the half stronger. Leo McLoone, Dermot Molloy and Darragh Gallagher all raised white flags to see them ahead by 0-6 to 0-4 at the interval.
Naomh Conaill continued to make the headway in the second-half and were 0-8 to 0-5 to the good by the 40th minute mark. Yet St Eunan’s mounted a strong response, inspired by the goal from McMonagle, and McGowan was the hero with that late point.
St Eunan’s have little time to celebrate this success with a trip to the Morgan’s Athletic Grounds awaiting them next Sunday afternoon when they will face reigning All-Ireland champions Crossmaglen Rangers at the quarter-final stage of the Ulster Club SFC.