Glen star Conor Glass.
Glen star Conor Glass.

AIB Ulster Club SFC: Gritty Glen advance

AIB Ulster Club SFC First Round

Watty Graham's Glen 0-8 St Eunan's 1-4

By Alan Foley at O'Donnell Park

Derry’s Watty Graham’s snatched a dramatic victory in the dying embers against Donegal champions St Eunan’s in Letterkenny in the Ulster Club SFC preliminary round.

The Letterkenny side were left devastated, having led the contest from 17 minutes till 10 seconds from time when Glen corner-back Michael Warnock showed nerves of steel to split the posts to level.

Then, from the kick-out that followed, Shaun Patton and Sean McVeigh were penalised for a one-two and a technical foul was given and from the free right in front of the posts, Danny Tallon kicked what would turn out to be the winner.

It looked as though it was going to be St Eunan’s day as with just four minutes left Patton saved a penalty from Conleth McGuckin after Peter Devine was deemed to have fouled Stevie O’Hara. St Eunan’s were 1-4 to 0-6 up at the time.

If it ended with fireworks, it began with caution. Both teams dropped into their shells and the essence was safety first, with neither taking any risks whatsoever. Passages of play took chunks of minutes with one mirroring the other. It was the Derry champions initially though, who were getting whatever shots off there were.

A measure of how tentative it was, was the fact the score was 0-1 to 0-0 for Watty Graham’s at the first water-break, with the last play of the first quarter being a hurried shot from Padraig McGettigan. Seventeen minutes had been played and it was the hosts’ first pop at goal.

McGettigan, though, slapped home a goal for St Eunan’s on 17 minutes from a diagonal ball in from Darragh Mulgrew - the most impressive player on the field in the first half. It was St Eunan’s first score and they led 1-0 to 0-1.

Rory Kavanagh’s side seemed to be replicating their county final showing - the 1-11 to 0-4 victory over Naomh Conaill - and went in 1-2 to 0-3 in front at half-time.

The third quarter, where Connor Carville was black-carded, saw just one score apiece, with Tallon the scorer for Glen and McGettigan punching over from close in. It was tense. Patton, the Eunan’s goalkeeper, had missed three placed balls and at the other end, Alex Doherty blazed high and wide.

Nine minutes from time, St Eunan’s went 1-4 to 0-5 ahead, with Kieran Tobin scoring and it looked as though they might see it out but Ciaran McFaul pulled a point back to galvanize his team. Glen came through the acid test.

St Eunan's: Shaun Patton; Conor Parke, Caolan Ward, Aaron Deeney; Kieran Tobin (0-1), Conor O'Donnell Snr, Peter Devine; Darragh Mulgrew (0-1), Kevin Kealy; Eoin Dowling, Shane O'Donnell (0-1, 1m), Sean McVeigh; Padraig McGettigan (1-1), Niall O'Donnell, Peter McEniff.

Subs: Sean McGettigan for Kealy (52), Eoin McGeehin for P McGettigan (59), Conor O’Donnell Jnr for Dowling (60).

Watty Graham's: Conlann Bradley; Michael Warnock (0-1), Ryan Dougan, Connor Carville; Tiarnán Flannagan, Ciaran McFaul (0-1), Ethan Doherty; Conor Glass (0-1, 45), Conor McDevitt; Eunan Mullholland, Jack Doherty, Conor Convery; Paul Gunning, Danny Tallan (0-5, 3f), Conleth McGuckian.

Subs: Alex Doherty for Doherty (34), Cathal Mullholland for E Mulholland (47), Steve O’Hara for Gunning (55), Tiarnan Higgins for Conor Convery (63).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).