BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT O’DONNELL PARK
ST Eunan’s won though to the semi-finals of the Ulster Club Championship for only the third time in their history yesterday as Conall Dunne scored 1-4 in a 1-9 to 0-6 demolition of Roslea Shamocks at O’Donnell Park.
St Eunan’s were practically in total control against Roslea, who failed to score until the 40th minute, on a day when the Letterkenny side recorded their first ever win on home soil at Ulster level.
The reward is a semi-final against Omagh St Enda’s, the conquerers of Crossmaglen, at Celtic Park in Derry on Sunday (throw-in 2.30pm).
The game will be the third for St Eunan’s at the penultimate stage: They lost 2-8 to 1-6 against Crosserlough of Cavan at Coalisland in 1969 and in 2008 Crossmaglen defeated them 0-11 to 0-8 at Brewster Park in their previous semis.
“We want to give it a push this year,” said St Eunan’s centre-back Eamonn Doherty, whose team made light work of the Fermanagh champions yesterday, seven days after winning the Donegal SFC for the 14th time.
“It was on our mind all week. We were trying to enjoy the county championship win but at the back of our minds was Ulster. It was a potential banana-skin with only a week’s rest. You don’t know what kind of mindset boys are in but we got over the line.
“It was a great first half performance. In the second half maybe we weren’t so used to being that far up, we didn’t know how to go about it. Defensively we did well – they only got two points from play from six in total.”
St Eunan’s perhaps did flummox themselves with their opening half. With Dunne hitting 1-4, after Kevin Rafferty opened the scoring, St Eunan’s were 1-5 to no score in front at the changeover and it was another ten minutes before Seamus Quigley got Roslea’s first score.
“That shows our intensity,” said St Eunan’s captain Rory Kavanagh.
“There’s a huge level of commitment and honesty and all the boys have a good level of experience. It’s huge for this group of players and today was a special day for everyone.”
It was only the club’s second time to play an Ulster match at O’Donnell Park – and the first since a 0-10 apiece draw with Bellaghy in 1972 – and the big crowd left contented as St Eunan’s march on to the semis.
Kavanagh said: “Roslea took us a little by surprise as they set-up very defensively. I thought we showed good patience and used the ball through hands when we had to. Kicking the opening score settled us down. The overall composure of the team was good.”
Roslea were beaten by Glenswilly last year and St Eunan’s, who overcame Glenswilly in last week’s county final, coped well throughout and they could afford to lift off the gas in the second half.
Maxi Curran handed a first SFC start to Shaun Patton, who replaced Sean Daffan, and Cillian Morrison came on as a late sub for a side that is now ready to joust with Omagh for a place in the final.
Kavanagh said: “Maxi has brought great analysis and preparation. With the games coming thick and fast we haven’t had time to get too nervous and the young lads in particular have been great. Maxi has really brought belief into this team. Everyone has bought into what he wants to do here.”