KILCAR 2-11 ST EUNAN’S 2-04
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT MACCUMHAILL PARK
FOR THE second time in three years, Kilcar are the county minor champions after the south-west boys recorded a thoroughly-deserved win over St Eunan’s in yesterday’s entertaining final in Ballybofey.
Goals in either half from Aaron Doherty and Chris Doogan were the big scores in a game that was lit up by a sumptuous display by Kilcar’s Eoin McHugh, who scored six magnificent points to cap off a match-winning afternoon.
McHugh was at the hub of everything Kilcar did and an array of simply brilliant scores, off both feet, helped steer his club to their second minor title under John McNulty, two years after their last, and only their fourth in history (1964 and 1998 the others).
Yesterday’s was a game that was, in truth, in the melting pot for longer than it should have been. It wasn’t until the late stages that Kilcar pulled enough clear, while St Eunan’s finished with fourteen men after David Tyrell, the wing back, was sent off having been given a second yellow card by the referee, Kieran McShea.
Kilcar had burst from the traps with Doherty’s early goal setting the tone for a dominant Kilcar performance. And yet, and yet St Eunan’s stayed in touch with Kevin Meehan’s goal, which was the last act of the first half, bringing his team to within a point.
They were closer still when Michael Miller rattled home goal number two, which levelled the tie in the 37th minute.
Eunan’s were just a point in arrears with ten minutes to go – only for Doogan’s second goal to hand Kilcar what was a deserved win.
Kilcar, by the close of business, had eleven wides to their name on an afternoon that could, and should have yielded more goals for the blue and yellow brigade.
Still, this was a performance and a win that they managed with one of their stars, Stephen McBrearty, playing a largely peripheral role due to a knee ligament injury that had forced him off early in their semi-final win over Cloughaneely.
McBrearty did get more involved in the closing stages, when Matthew McClean, Cormac Cannon and Man of the Match Eoin McHugh popped over the points that opened the gates of glory for the Towney side.
A slow opening saw ten minutes pass before David Tyrell popped over the opener, from a free.
Eoin McHugh levelled when he drilled over with his left foot and at the midway point of the opening stanza, Kilcar bagged their opening goal. James Shovlin had an integral role in the move, galloping upfield to release Conor Doherty, whose shot was saved by Aidan Mitchell in the St Eunan’s goal.
Mitchell could only parry, though, and Aaron Doherty, a cousin of the original man to have the shot, made no mistake in tapping home. St Eunan’s were stunned and Kilcar continued to land the telling blows, with Eoin McHugh firing over twice inside a minute, this time with a brace of beauties off his right foot, one from 35metres and the other closer to the ’45.
David Tyrell and Matthew McClean swapped scores before centre-back Conor O’Donnell burst forward to reduce the margin and bring St Eunan’s to within four as Kilcar’s option-selection at times saw them curtailed a little in front of the posts.
With the last wave of attack in the first half, St Eunan’s got a lifeline. Kilcar’s defence parted, as Eunan’s broke from a turnover after a pass from Eoin to Ryan McHugh was intercepted.
Michael Miller deftly slipped in Kevin Meehan. His initial effort came off the post but, despite the efforts of the Kilcar rearguard, the full-forward was able to maintain his balance enough to prod home.
Within six minutes of the restart, Kilcar were back ahead by three. Again Eoin McHugh struck from 40 metres before McClean added another.
Again, though, they allowed Eunan’s back into it – and this time the Letterkenny team got onto an even-keel for the first time since the game’s infancy. A devastating move concluded with Miller delicately dancing past two Kilcar players, onto the left foot, with which he powered past Kevin Byrne.
The momentum now appeared with St Eunan’s. However, the black and amber would go on to score just once more by the finish; their second half collapse seeing them register a measly 1-1, a tally that ultimately proved fatal to their chances.
Eoin and Ryan McHugh blasted Kilcar ahead again, but Kilcar had spurned a brilliant opening for a goal just after Miller netted. Eoin, as was the afternoon’s chorus, was the architect, superbly playing in Michael Cunningham, but his shot was easy for Mitchell to save.
Ten minutes from time, just after Dan O’Donnell had brought Eunan’s to within a point again, however, Kilcar did seal the deal. Ryan McHugh was the central figure in a move that ended with a clinical finish by Chris Doogan, who beat Mitchell with a crisp left-footed effort.
Sixty seconds later, Doogan had a chance for what would have been a carbon copy; this time, though, his bearings were off an the chance was gone.
Eoin McHugh, long since with the Man of the Match award clinched, showed his real mettle then, in barging off a host of challenges to tee himself up for a pot shot that never looked in doubt.
The gloss to the scoreboard was added by the late scores of Cannon and McClean, while there was still time for missed goal chances at either end for Conor McEniff and Aaron Doherty; not to mention a second yellow card for the frustrated Tyrell.
Kilcar: Kevin Boyle; Christopher Cunningham, Martin Byrne, James Shovlin; Cormac Cannon (0-1), Ryan McHugh (0-1, 1f), Andrew McClean; Aodhán McGinley, Eoin McHugh (0-6); Chris Doogan (1-0), Matthew McClean (0-3), Conor Doherty; Michael Cunningham, Aaron Doherty (1-0), Stephen McBrearty. Sub: Neil Sweeney for M.Cunningham (43 mins).
St Eunan’s: Aidan Mitchell; Brian Hannigan, Conor Parke, Conor Morrison; Dara McMonagle, Conor O’Donnell (0-1), David Tyrell (0-2, 2f); Jordan McBride, Oisin Carr; Conor McCloskey, Daragh Mulgrew, Barry McGeehin; Michael Roache, Kevin Meehan (1-0), Michael Miller (1-0). Subs: Conal O’Boyle for McMonagle (21 mins); John Gibbons for McCloskey (24 mins); Dan O’Donnell (0-1, 1f) for McBride (40 mins); Conor McEniff for Roache (43 mins); Daniel Gillespie for Meehan (54 mins).
Referee: Kieran McShea (MacCumhaills).
THE GAME AT A GLANCE
Man of the Match
Eoin McHugh (Kilcar): Outstanding. On a day when Kilcar did turn in a real team effort, Eoin McHugh was a few notches above everyone. Kicked six wonderful points from play, from all arts and angles and when his team needed a lift it was he who stepped up to the plate. Some of his scores were stunning and from general play he was heavily involved too.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, there was just a point between the teams. Kilcar led 1-8 to 2-4 and there was still a lingering sense that St Eunan’s might be able to summons a big finish. However, Chris Doogan’s second goal in the 50th minute evaporated whatever hopes the Letterkenny side had. For Kilcar, this was a massive score at a critical time.
Kieran McShea had a busy afternoon and there were complaints at times from both teams at differing stages. Overall, though, his display did not adversely affect the result. David Tyrell saw red late on for a second yellow card, though Daragh Mulgrew was fortunate not to be carded for a second time when he fouled deliberately moments after being booked.
Not for the first time, the matchday organising of a big game in the county leads us to pen familiar moans. Yesterday, for the county minor final – which has been the curtain raiser to the senior final in recent times – there was no match programme, nor even a simple teamsheet. Nor was there a public address system to keep the attendance informed as to line-ups and substitutions. Only for telephone contact with the St Eunan’s PRO and the presence of a Kilcar clubman in the pressbox, we’d have been in the dark for the changes.
The simple things, sometimes, can mean so much…