06 Oct 2022

‘Big challenge’ as St Michael’s face defending champions

St Michael's face Donegal SFC holders St Eunan's in Glenties on Saturday evening and Oisin Langan says the Bridge men will be 'massive underdogs'

‘Big challenge’ as St Michael’s face defending champions

St Michael's Oisin Langan tries to charge through the Gaoth Dobhair challenges.

St Michael’s need no introduction to St Eunan’s when it comes to championship football.

Since being pipped by a late goal, credited to Ross Wherity, in a 2006 semi-final, St Michael’s have been paired six times with St Eunan’s in the SFC.

St Michael’s have yet to get the better of the black and amber, though. Their swords cross at Davy Brennan Memorial Park in Glenties on Saturday evening in a quarter-final (throw-in 5.30pm).

“We’ve ran St Eunan’s close and we know what to expect,” St Michael’s player Oisin Langan told Donegal Live.

“This is a big challenge against the defending champions and we know that we’ll be massive underdogs. St Eunan’s are where every team wants to get to.

“We’ve knocked on the door with quarter-finals and semi-finals, year-in, year-out. It doesn’t matter who you get now at this stage, it’ll be a hard game. We gave St Eunan’s a run last year, but they won it and went on to win the final too.”

St Michael’s have given St Eunan’s a run for the money a couple of times, not least in that meeting 16 years ago now, but haven’t managed to frogmarch the Cathedral Town side to the exit door.

In 2014, St Eunan’s edged a cliffhanger with Darragh Mulgrew’s goal giving St Eunan’s a 1-12 to 2-8 win in a semi-final.

A year later, St Eunan’s had ten points to spare with Lee McMonagle and Conor Parke netting in a 2-15 to 0-11 win, also at the semi-final stage.

St Eunan’s edged a 2016 group stage meeting 3-14 to 2-14 while St Eunan’s won a group stage meeting in 2020 following a 2019 stalemate.

Last year, St Eunan’s were 0-10 to 0-5 victors on a difficult night at MacCumhaill Park when St Michael’s had Liam Paul Ferry sent off in the first half.

St Michael’s, beaten finalists by Glenswilly in 2011, contested quarter-finals in 2012 and 2018 and also lost a semi-final to Kilcar in 2017.

“Getting to the quarter-finals is always the first aim,” Langan said. “You take the championship in two stages and push on from there.”

Donegal football icons Colm McFadden and Christy Toye have passed their respective torches on and their departures represent a big guard change around The Bridge.

The St Michael’s team, now managed by Raymond McLaughlin and Cathal Sweeney, remains littered with experience.

Martin McElhinney, Antoin McFadden and Daniel McLaughlin were All-Ireland winners in 2012. Stephen Doak, Michael McGinley, Michael Gallagher and Andrew Kelly also featured in the 2011 county final.

“There has been a transition, but there are good young fellas here and training is going well,” Langan said. “We just want to push on to he best of our ability. Young lads are stepping up and we have plenty of experience and knowledge in the dressing room.”

The likes of Colin McFadden and Carlos O’Reilly have donned the Donegal shirt from underage level, Michael Langan was an All-Star nominee two years ago. There are plenty of positive flickers, even if Saturday presents a mammoth challenge.

“We have plenty of lads who have played at a high standard,” Oisin Langan said. “That should stand to them through games like this.

“The work rate is here even if we have let ourselves down a bit in spells. Everyone is putting in a shift and we feel as if we’re playing good football. It’s so far, so good, but we’re always looking to go up a level.”

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