Listen to Mr. Cavanagh's post-match Donegal Sports Talk interview (SoundCloud link below)...
SENIOR SOCCER ULSTER FINAL - 1st February 2017
CARNDONAGH CS 1 - 0 ST EUNAN'S
The preparations for the final began with a ‘light’ session on Thursday evening after school. There were rumours floating about the school like a bad smell all day that there was to be a special guest appearing to provide a bit of inspiration before the big game. There were all sorts of names being mentioned from Ollie Horgan to Tony Boyce, from Christy Fildara to Liam Gallagher. Nobody had a clue. When we got there anyways and the only special guest we could see was Conor Browne (2nd training session this year).
The session went well with two great goalkeepers on show. But there was one major disaster, Captain Todd pulled up with a sore heel. He went down like a man shot by a sniper. Well, that night there were candles being lit, rosaries being said, men going to mass who hadn’t been to mass since their confirmation, anything we could do to get Todd back fit and well. In the end it took a late night call from myself to put matters right; six simple words “Pain is temporary, Success is permanent”.
The next day the boys were all sitting in the Coffee Dock waiting. There were men biting nails, there were knees shaking. No sign of Sam. The bus was loaded up, seatbelts on, still no Sam. Just as Seamus O’Donnell was about to turn the key, there he came through the gate, gear bag in one hand, tuna salad in the other. Benny Doherty said, “How’s the heel?”, the atmosphere, it was as tense as a game of cards. “It’s like a brand new foot” he said. Well that was the go-ahead the bus driver needed to hit the road.
The bus pulled into Centra for some light refreshment on the way. Before the wheels had stopped, Ciaran Jimmy Roe had the head in the deli counter. There was little or nothing left for the rest of us! Carn came into the game as underdogs, after the bookies heard Houghton got the shout for goals. He only got it because Mr. Cavanagh heard I was carrying a sore back. Deery was given the chance up front and McKinney got the nod over John Downes. There was four at the back, two playing across the middle, three wandering about near the front and one man up top on his own. Hession, McBride and the Doherty twins were all dropped to the bench after oul stories coming from China that Shanghai SIPG were throwing in a €20 million bid for them. Benny ended the rumours by saying “I’m scared of flying”.
Eunan's started strong; stronger than Carn anyways. Carn were playing like an over 40s team. There was misplaced passes, slips, stray shots. Anything that could go wrong went wrong. Eunan's nearly got the breakthrough when a woeful bit of defending resulted in Devine being left on his hindquarters (his excuse was his laces were loose). The Eunan's forward had a go from outside the ‘D’. Houghton plucked her out of the sky and tipped her over the crossbar. Wee Corey Mc Bride said “you’d swear Clark Kent was in goals”. Thankfully the referee blew the whistle for half time and the boys went inside. Tweed said in an interview after the match, “I don’t like Mr. Cavanagh's cross face”. The half-time show was similar to the first half, bad shooting and some fine goalkeeping.
The second half started similar to the first - BAD! It got that bad that Mr. Cavanagh called on Hession to warm up. There was something just not right with Hession, he was panicking. We all thought it was the pressure of the final. It turned out to be he forgot his Shockwaves in the house and was forced to play with bad looking hair. Mr. McConway even offered him his cap, but then realised that his own needs were greater! There was a couple of major talking points, one being our linesman for the day, Christy Fildara who couldn’t tell if the ball was in or out on certain occasions. Once, the ball went into the next field and he still was unsure. It was a long second half with Eunan's on top. Thankfully Houghton had the rescue gloves on and Carn stayed in the match. Eventually a goal came. Derry City man, Cathal Farren crossed a ball that was returned by McClure, and then met by the RIGHT foot of Captain Todd who nearly sent the 6'10" giant of a keeper in through the net. At this stage, Mr. Cavanagh then brought on Clonmany Shamrocks wonderkid Jack Doherty to see the game out. Jack got more yellow cards than touches but his presence proved invaluable.
Carn won it by the skin on their teeth. Todd lifted the Cup. He is a man of few words but managed to give a nice speech (I think), ‘tis a pity we couldn’t hear him with the wind. Semi-final of the All Ireland to be played on the 7th of March. Carn will play the winners of the Connacht final.
Daniel Houghton: 8/10 For the first time this year he played well. Few dodgy kicks though, should be catching instead of punching.
Lee McLaughlin: 7/10 Solid game from the full back. Had O'Donnell in his pocket.
Tiernan Devine: 6/10 Gasping for air from the start, will struggle in this year’s Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge.
Sam Todd: 8/10 On Tuesday he was like something that fell off the Lourdes bus. A few words of wisdom and he was back to himself.
James McKinney: 7/10 Can’t buy experience. Kept the whole back-four right.
Cathal Farren: 7/10 Like a lighthouse in the desert (brilliant but useless!!).
Kieran Farren: 7/10 Solid game. Didn’t even get booked!
Mikey Friel: 7/10 Started well, but when he got bad he got ‘injured’.
Evan Tweed: 7/10 See Cathal Farren comment.
Fionn McClure: 7/10 Forgets to take the ball with him times. Missed a clean sitter, claims it was a good save...
Darragh Deery: 6/10 Played better out on the wing. Lucky not to be taken off. Must improve.
Oisin Hession: 6/10 Should have scored when clean through. Must be the hair? (Get it sorted.)
Jack Doherty: 6/10 1 tackle, 1 booking.
Brendan Doherty: Told to warm up, that’s as far as he got.
Callum Harley: Out injured.
John Downes: Drank all the water on the bench.
Jake Harkin: One for the future!
Conor Browne: Told a few good jokes on the sideline.
Cade Cooke: Togged out well.
Wee Corey McBride: Unlucky not to get on.
Joe Doherty: Managed to do 35 kickups on the sideline.
Ciaran Jimmyroe: Ate too much in Centra to be useful.
Match report by Callum Harley