Kavanagh hoping Letterkenny can upset the odds and land rare Donegal double

Rory Kavanagh has won senior county titles with St Eunan's as a player but is now hoping to land the Dr Maguire Cup for the first time as manager of the Letterkenny club
Rory Kavanagh has won senior county titles with St Eunan's as a player but is now hoping to land the Dr Maguire Cup for the first time as manager of the Letterkenny club

Michael Murphy Sport & Leisure Donegal SFC final: Naomh Conaill v St Eunan's, Letterkenny (tomorrow, Ballybofey, 3pm, live on TG4)

CONSISTENCY is the key to St Eunan’s upsetting the odds and taking their first Dr Maguire Cup back to Letterkenny for the first time since 2014.

Manager Rory Kavanagh does not talk about winning but is keen for his young charges to shed their Jekyll and Hyde form.

For Eunan’s have mixed magnificence with mediocrity and their young captain Niall O’Donnell says they have “stumbled” to the final.

That is a tad harsh on a quality side, but Kavanagh is aware that a victory would be a huge psychological boost to the town.

Their hurlers have already set an example by shocking Setanta to win the senior county title last weekend and, even though they are not favourites, Kavanagh is very aware that there is a deep sense of expectation in his hometown.

“The last time we were in a final was six years ago and that is a long time to be waiting and a lot of time has past," said the former Donegal star.

“But this is a new team that we have been building over the past few years and we have gone close in the past couple of finals against Naomh Conaill. We are just delighted that we have the opportunity to experience that again and hopefully now we can put in a big performance because we know we are going to be up against it."

Their first half display against Kilcar, in the earlier round was one of the best seen in recent years, but the second half display was not so good.

And that has been their theme tune so far.

“Yes, we scored 1-8 in the first half, but games are over 60 minutes and we were disappointed by the second half, but it was a chance for us to take a few learnings from it and we did that," added Kavanagh.

“I just feel there has been inconsistency in the campaign, but it is all about getting to the county final and hopefully we can put in a big performance”.

So what is the reason for this mixed campaign?

“I think it is youth too and we have a lot of young players in the squad and they are learning within each game and they facing different challenges within each game as well and then we had a tough match against Termon in the Burn Road.

“But a lot of people thought we had the easier side of the draw and we had to take advantage of that and thankfully we did."

But Eunan’s had a very good second half against Aodh Ruadh as well.

“Well, Aodh Ruadh were just up from Intermediate, and you have to be realistic and Naomh Conaill have beaten seasoned teams like Gaoth Dobhair and Kilcar so we know the level they are at and we hope to match them”.

He added: “It will be a difficult task and Naomh Conaill have a style of play built up over five seasons and are well embedded and they are going for three in a row so they are going to be a real tough nut to crack.

“But our lads are looking forward to it.

“The hurlers did a good job last week, so morale is good in the camp. The whole town is looking forward to it”.

Eunan’s have a big squad and Kavanagh admits he has used it to the full in the campaign to date.

“We have a squad and so have Naomh Conaill and it about trusting them and we said from the very beginning that we would use our squad irrespective of the result because you are playing week on week, and you are picking up injuries.

“We knew at the start that the Kilcar game would not define us and as we had the easier side of the draw it was a chance to use more players. We are happy now that players have got championship games and it is all about building experience”

Sunday will certainly test that theory.