ST EUNAN’S 1-09 ROSLEA SHAMROCKS 0-06
REPORT BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT O’DONNELL PARK
ST EUNAN’S put Fermanagh champions Roslea to the sword to book their ticket to the Ulster Club semi-finals.
It was only St Eunan’s third ever win in the Ulster Championship and Maxi Curran’s team are now just an hour off the final.
Roslea were obliging opponents in many respects; they didn’t score for 40 minutes, by which time St Eunan’s were well on their way to the last four.
But this was still impressive for St Eunan’s.
Although the second half will have given their management food for thought, it was perhaps understandable that the standards slipped somewhat after they raced eight ahead in the first half.
Conall Dunne’s goal, from a penalty on the stroke of half-time, sent St Eunan’s in 1-5 to no score ahead at the break.
St Eunan’s were controlled and composed in the face of a jam-packed Roslea rearguard and at the other end the sole hopes of the visitors appeared to rest on booting Hail Marys in search of the hands of the Quigley brothers, Seamus and Sean, who recovered from a knee injury scare to take his place from the off.
Roslea travelled in big numbers, but the statistic that perhaps outlines the gulf between the sides is the one that illustrates the 27 minutes that passed before Roslea managed to even get a shot in anger, Sean Quigley firing wide from a position that would generally be regarded as his bread and butter.
Soon after, the roof caved in for the Fermanagh side.
A week after his heroics against Glenswilly in the Donegal SFC final, 38-year-old John Haran was a marked man here. The big man’s jersey was tugged back by Niall Cassidy, the Roslea full-back, whose head-in-hands reaction confirmed his guilt.
Referee Ronan Barry had already signalled for a penalty.
Dunne tucked past Sean Boyle and with an eight-point advantage St Eunan’s could plan for the semis.
Kevin Rafferty had been a major injury doubt for Eunan’s. The midfielder’s county final ended early as an eye injury forced him to be carted off to hospital as his team-mates tussled with Glenswilly. Rafferty wasn’t listed on the programme team, but the big midfielder was given the green light and it was he who scored the first and last St Eunan’s points of the day.
The first came in the sixth minute. Combining usefully with Conor Parke, Rafferty cut through the middle and arched over from 35 metres.
When Haran off-loaded to the overlapping Dunne for a point in the twelfth minute, St Eunan’s were settled.
Three frees from Dunne ticked the scoreboard along nicely and St Eunan’s might have had a sniff of a goal in the 16th minute. Darragh Mulgrew’s shot dropped short, but Boyle spilled only to react in the nick of time with Rory Carr ready to pounce.
Roslea kicked two wides late in the half, but Shaun Patton – making his first SFC appearance for St Eunan’s – could hardly have asked for a more routine beginning to this level. Patton replaced Sean Daffan in what was the only tweak to Curran’s starting XV, but he’ll certainly have trickier evenings in store.
Seamus Quigley finally broke the Roslea duck with a 40th minute free, but Eunan’s moved through the gears seamlessly with Conor Parke, Rory Carr and Conor Gibbons opening up a ten-point lead for the home side.
Parke brilliantly cut over from a tight angle before Carr showed good strength to get the better of three defenders and clip a neat point with Gibbons taking a transfer from Haran to score.
Roslea brought some modicum of balance to things, but they managed just two points from play in total, the first of those arriving six minutes from the end through substitute Dermot Reilly.
Rafferty put the cheery on the St Eunan’s cake after working a neat one-two with Cillian Morrison – perhaps better known these days as a player on the books of League of Ireland side Cork City – who came on as a late sub.
ST EUNAN’S: Shaun Patton; Micheál Martin, Sean Hensey, Caolán Ward; Conor Parke (0-1), Eamonn Doherty, Conor Morrison; Kevin Rafferty (0-2), Rory Kavanagh; Darragh Mulgrew, Conall Dunne (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2f), Sean McVeigh; Conor Gibbons (0-1), John Haran, Rory Carr (0-1).
Subs: Mark McGowan for Morrison (39 mins), Cillian Morrison for Carr (49 mins), Kieran Sharkey for Haran (56 mins), Connall O’Boyle for Martin (57 mins), Paddy McGowan for Gibbons (60 mins).
ROSLEA SHAMROCKS: Sean Boyle; Conor Quigley, Niall Cassidy, Martin Beagan; Conor Mulligan, Peter Sherry, Martin Renfrew; James Sherry, Kevin Cosgrove; James McMahon, Peter Lynch, Niall Consgrove; Shane Lynch, Seamus Quigley (0-4, 3f), Sean Quigley (0-1, 1f).
Subs: Dermot Reilly (0-1) for Renfrew (30 mins), Shane McMahon for Cassidy (33 mins, black card), Danny Mohan for Cosgrove (47 mins), Ryan McCormack for Lynch (47 mins), Ruairi McGuinness for Beagan (54 mins).
REFEREE: Ronan Barry (Down).