BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN BALLYBOFEY
THEY took a familiar path yesterday.
The victorious Kilcar minor team took the Donegal Minor Championship back to the south-west for the second time in three seasons.
These have been profitable times for the resurgent Towney side. Along with the two Minor titles of 2010 and 2012 there sits the 2011 under 21 crown, while the under 21 class of now are in a quarter-final replay against St Eunan’s this weekend.
Exciting times for the proud club, who gleefully accepted another slice of silverware after their 2-11 to 2-04 win over St Eunan’s at a biting Sean MacCumhaill Park.
The large crowd of jubilant Kilcar supporters flocked onto the pitch to celebrate their triumph, the club’s fourth minor title.
Off they went through the gap, past Killybegs and into their own parish, through Kille, Largymore and Bavin, the home of the McHughs, and then, as they say, ‘down the trough’ into Kilcar.
“It means absolutely everything, it really does,” said their captain, Ryan McHugh.
“We’ve been planning for this all year. As you can at the end of the game it means everything to the club. A couple of years ago, a few of us were lucky enough to play on the 2010 winning team.
“This means everything. We’ll take it back down the trough now and there’ll be big celebrations in Kilcar tonight.”
Eoin McHugh was their star turn yesterday, an inspiration six points and a magnificent display marking his card as another to keep a close watch on. He was another to emphasise what it means.
“It’s a brilliant win for the club. It means everything to the club,” he said.
“You see today, St Eunan’s from a town like Letterkenny and a club like Kilcar can outnumber them with supporters – it’s amazing.
“It’s a great feeling to have the Cup won and have everyone out on the field congratulating you. This is what it’s all about.
“We’re practically brothers on this team. If I’m at one boy’s house one day I’ll be at another the next day. That’s how we play too, like a family.”
Eoin played down his own contribution, which was undoubtedly the winning of the game for his team.
He said: “My own performance doesn’t really matter when it comes to this; it’s a team sport.
“Everyone else pulled through brilliantly and we had some brilliant performances from the likes of Matthew McClean and you had Stephen McBrearty playing on one knee. I don’t know he did that.
“We had excellent performances all around the field and that’s the aim of the game. Two, three or four players can’t win games for you; you need all fifteen.”
The team manager, John McNulty, could well be seen as a man with a Midas touch having now guided the club to two Minor and one under 21 title since 2010.
McNulty was ‘ecstatic’ at yesterday’s win, denying the likes of Conor Parke, Barry McGeehin and Daragh Mulgrew a senior-minor double in 2012.
McNulty said: “We got a performance from everybody – and that’s what makes a winning team.
“It isn’t about four or five players; it’s about the whole team. It’s great to have the likes of Eoin (McHugh), Ryan (McHugh), Aodhán (McGinley) and Stephen (McBrearty), but the rest of the boys are coming along and putting in 100 per cent effort.
“That makes a huge difference. It showed out there today. Boys you mightn’t have heard of really stood up to the mark and I’m very, very proud of them all.”
Kilcar were winning well as Aaron Doherty’s goal had them 1-4 to 0-3 ahead late in the first half when Kevin Meehan brought St Eunan’s back into it.
McNulty said: “We should have been more ahead at half-time after St Eunan’s got the late goal.
“We went back in, we spoke about it and in fairness to the lads, everyone knew we could come out in the second half and give them a great game.
“We knew what was in the tank – and the boys absolutely emptied the tank in the second half.
“We had some stars today. We said to them that it was up to everyone as an individual to do what they wanted to do. They proved today that they wanted it.
“It was a great performance from the lads today. We couldn’t have asked for any more from them. They battled so hard.”
Kilcar had belief in spades yesterday. Even when St Eunan’s threatened to knock them to the ropes, they held a composure that was also in evident when they came through against Cloughaneely in a semi-final in which they were eight points down at one stage.
Skipper Ryan McHugh said: “We showed great character all year. Even against Cloughaneely, we never thought we were going to lose that.
“It was the same today. We have showed great belief all year and John (McNulty), our manager, has shown great belief in us. He had full confidence in us to come back.
“St Eunan’s are a great team. They strolled through the Championship and we knew we were in for a big battle today. We deserved it overall and I think the scoreline shows that.
“St Eunan’s had their chances and they were only a point behind us at half time.
“We felt we should have kept the goal out and been more ahead, but we regrouped and showed our stuff in the second half.
“The big players on a team always have to do their bit, but we had some very good displays from younger members of the team today. That won the game for us.”
While Kilcar have some aces in their pack, yesterday’s was about so much more than the McHughs, McBrearty and McGinley.
Eoin McHugh noted that the Kilcar teams of now aren’t reliant on one game-changer. He said: “At underage level we had the likes of Patrick McBrearty, an exceptional talent, and we were depending on him.
“This team isn’t reliant on anyone – it’s the whole fifteen. Everyman trusts each other and everyman knows what the other is capable of doing.”
It might be a little presumptuous to bill their achievements of the last few years as a Renaissance, but it cannot be doubted that it bodes well for the senior teams who’ll wear the blue and yellow.
McNulty said: “It’s a piece of history for the club.
“I think six or seven of those players played in both finals. You would hope that it bodes well for them and for the Kilcar club for the future. There is no doubt that it’s a mementos occasion. Kilcar is a small club and everyone knows that. It’s the only sport in the parish and you can see what it means now with how happy people are.
“It’s absolutely brilliant.”
The Glenties native has captured images from thousands of games for local and national publications, including the Donegal News,...