Saturday 14 December 2019

Haran rolls back the years as Eunan's equal title record

St Eunan's 0-9 Glenswilly 0-6 - Donegal SFC final

Rory Carr (left) and Mark McGowan of St Eunan's celebrate their side's victory over Glenswilly in the Donegal SFC final. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Rory Carr (left) and Mark McGowan of St Eunan's celebrate their side's victory over Glenswilly in the Donegal SFC final. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

New champions and yet familiar champions in Donegal, as St Eunan's struck to rack-up a record-equalling 14th county crown yesterday.

Patience proved to be a virtue for the Letterkenny side and their old dogs led the way on the hard road to gun down the defending champions and 2013 Ulster finalists.

This meant everything to St Eunan's, against their neighbours and fierce rivals, and it was personified by John Haran's man of the match display.

Playing in his 12th final, Haran - 38 tomorrow - was inspirational. In direct combat with All Stars Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy, Haran rolled back the years while working away in the trenches.

Conall Dunne hit five points and Rory Kavanagh, their captain, led by example when it mattered most.

Barrier

The contrast in styles could hardly have been greater here and St Eunan's managed to break Glenswilly's barrier. Their margin of victory might well have been greater, but their 12 wides made it a struggle at times.

Glenswilly just couldn't click, bar in the final five minutes of the first half when a mini-purple patch got them back on track.

GAA Newsletter

Expert GAA analysis straight to your inbox.

Before then, three points by Dunne swung St Eunan's into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead, but Glenswilly hit back. However, Brian Farrelly's 27th-minute score, superbly executed off the outside of his right foot, was their only point from play over the hour.

Either side of that, Murphy landed two frees - the second of them a majestic effort from on the chalk of the left sideline - and Glenswilly were level.

It was Eunan's, though, who led at the break thanks to Conor Gibbons' late effort.

The build-up to the final was dogged by controversy as Naomh Conaill lodged an objection after being beaten by Glenswilly in last weekend's semi-final.

The Glenties club cried foul after a replacement was allowed on for Ciaran Bonner, black-carded having already been booked, and that player, Oisin Crawford, scored the match-winning point. Their appeal fell on deaf ears, with Ulster's Hearings Committee rejecting it on Saturday, barely 24 hours before throw-in.

The second half was a nervous affair, but Eunan's did enough to stay ahead. A superb score from the tightest of angles by dual player Sean McVeigh put two between them, but Glenswilly remained in the slipstream thanks to a Gary McFadden free.

Eunan's lost former Donegal midfielder Kevin Rafferty after only 10 minutes, with the player taken to hospital for an X-ray on an eye injury.

A surging run from deep by Eamon Doherty drew a foul and Dunne pointed the resulting free before Conor Parke got forward for a well-taken score.

Murphy, from a '45', reduced the arrears, but the champions had left themselves with too much to do and a couple of high 'Hail Marys' aimed at Murphy and Gallagher proved fruitless.

Kavanagh fetched high in stoppage-time to cut off the supply and, seconds later, Dunne tapped over a free.

St Eunan's are Tir Chonaill's kings again, moving level with Gaoth Dobhair at the top of the leaderboard. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Scorers: St Eunan's: C Dunne 0-5 (4fs), C Gibbons 0-2, S McVeigh, C Parke 0-1 each. Glenswilly: M Murphy 0-3 (2fs, 1 '45'), G McFadden 0-2fs, B Farrelly 0-1.

St Eunan's: S Daffan; C Parke, M Martin, C Morrison; C Ward, E Doherty, D Mulgrew; K Rafferty, R Kavanagh; C Gibbons, C Dunne, S McVeigh; R Carr, J Haran, S Hensey. Subs: M McGowan for Rafferty (10), D Gallagher for Martin (42).

Glenswilly: G McGrenra; A McDevitt, E Ward, R Crawford; B McDaid, L Kelly, C Callaghan; N Gallagher, C Bonner; C Gibbons, G McFadden, O Crawford; B Farrelly, M Murphy, D McGinley. Subs: C Gallagher for Bonner (35), K McFadden for Farrelly (47).

Referee: M Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Indo Sport

The Throw In: From 1955 heartbreak to 2019's five in-a-row - Inside the Decades of the Dubs

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport