ST MICHAEL’S 1-09 FOUR MASTERS 0-04
REPORT BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT THE BRIDGE
A DEADLY 1-6 from inspired Donegal star Colm McFadden shot St Michael’s to their third win of the season at home to Four Masters yesterday.
Three weeks out from Donegal’s Ulster championship opener, McFadden hit 1-4 from play and seems a player high in confidence at the minute – encouraging, given that Michael Murphy will miss the May 20th date with Cavan.
Both these teams were under-strength for the meeting at a sun-kissed Dunfanaghy. The hosts were minus the services of Brian McLaughlin, Peter Witherow, Andrew Kelly and Christy Toye, with notable absentees on the Masters starting roster including Karl Lacey, Michael Doherty, Barry Monaghan, Luke Keaney and Shane Carr.
In the absence of Doherty from their forward division, the Donegal town side lack a real penetrating presence in front of goal, as shown by their four-point tally.
They scored twice in either half and didn’t create too much aside from those scores, bar one glorious chance that fell to Oisin McGinty, but which he miscued in front of goal.
St Michael’s were contented to give away frees in their own half, but as ace marksman McFadden informed his team-mates, they ‘won’t get away with that fouling every day’.
It was the McFadden show for long spells yesterday, with his four points giving Eddie Harkin’s side a two-point cushion at half-time.
He hit the first of his points just 78 seconds in, a beautifully struck free off the ground from 45 metres out sailing coolly between the posts.
And he followed that up with a magnificent point from play, finding his range from a very tight angle after being forced wide by Darren Walsh.
Already down a significant number of their marquee named, Four Masters were dealt a further body blow after only seven minutes when Barry Dunnion had to be carried off after sustaining a hamstring injury. The injury-plagued wing-back has only just been recalled to train with the Donegal senior panel by Jim McGuinness, but his substitution so early seemed more a precaution to avoid any further damage to a player who deserves a break by now.
Conor McMonagle opened the Four Masters account with a free soon after, but a magnificent ‘45 by McFadden restored the two-point lead for the home team.
Masters squandered a guilt-edged chance on the quarter-hour when McGinty screwed badly wide after being teed up by sub Benny Cassidy in what had been a well-orchestrated move by Four Masters.
Conor McDaid pulled another back, only for McFadden to put two between them as they headed for the refreshments.
Just three minutes into the second-half, McFadden pretty much made it game, set and match for St Michael’s. After plucking the ball from the breezy sky to collect from Martin McElhinney’s inviting long-range free pumped in, McFadden spun away before rounding Paul Durcan to tuck
home and stretch the lead to five.
Pauric Harvey hit back for Four Masters, but McFadden cancelled it out before a close-range Stephen Coyle free had St Michael’s six up.
It was one-way traffic that was halted only momentarily when McMonagle posted a free. The anguish, however, was piled on in the final five minutes as St Michael’s closed the game out with the afternoon’s final three points – Lorcan McDaid, McFadden and sub John McFadden on the mark to seal an eight-point win.
By the time the business end of the year swings by, these times will be much stronger you feel. Right now, St Michael’s are in the better place, with McFadden in menacing club form as the championship draws ever closer.
St Michael’s: Ciaran Gallagher; Brendan Rodden, Stephen Doak, James Alcorn; Gerard Gallagher, Ciaran Gallagher, Michael Gallagher; Martin McElhinney, Lorcan McDaid (0-1); Daniel McLaughlin, Barry McGinley, Stephen Coyle (0-1); Colm McFadden (1-6, 1f, 1 ‘45), Antoin McFadden, Raymond McDaid. Subs: John McFadden (0-1) for McGinley (55 mins); Michael Cannon for R.McLaughlin (60 mins).
Four Masters: Paul Durcan; Ryan O’Donnell, Darren Walsh, Josh Lacey; Sean O’Kennedy, Conor Rooney, Pauric Harvey (0-1); Frank McMullin, Kevin McBrearty; Don Monaghan, Barry Dunnion, Peadar Espey; Oisin McGinty, Conor McMonagle (0-2, 2f), Conor McDaid (0-1). Subs: Benny Cassidy for Dunnion (7 mins); Dylan Muldoon for Cassidy (55 mins).
Referee: Ian Molloy (Naomh Conaill).