Naomh Conaill let go of a seven-point lead as An Cheathrú Rua from Galway snatched a place in the All-Ireland Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta senior final in Downings.
Naomh Conaill 1-11 An Cheathrú Rua 2-9
Naomh Conaill – pictured after winning the county Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta final last month – were readying themselves for tomorrow’s final when they led 1-8 to 1-1 in the opening exchanges of the second half, but they were caught by a pair of scores in added time to sink their bid for glory by Sheephaven Bay.
Despite being hit by the concession of a Maitiú Ó Domhnaill goal, Naomh Conaill hit back within a minute as Dermot Molloy rattled the An Cheathrú Rua net.
Naomh Conaill led by six points at half-time but, bit by bit, An Cheathrú Rua came into it and when sub Stiofán Ó Briain blasted home a goal in the 52nd minute, the 14-man Galway outfit – who had Ian Seoighe sent off – were back level.
Aaron Thompson’s score ordinarily might have won it for Naomh Conaill, but they allowed An Cheathrú Rua in for two late, late points.
When Cillín De Paor whipped over, the participants were readying themselves for extra time but, with the game’s last action, Ó Domhnaill struck the winner and leave Naomh Conaill scratching their heads.
Early points from Dermot Molloy and John O’Malley were cancelled out when An Cheathrú Rua broke for a goal on nine minutes. Cillín De Paor’s shot dropped shot and, just as the ball was slipping from the clutches of Stephen McGrath, the Naomh Conaill goalkeeper, Maitiú Ó Domhnaill batted home from point-blank range.
But Naomh Conaill’s response was instant and emphatic.
The Glenties men broke from McGrath’s kick-out and, via Eunan Doherty, Charles McGuinness and Marty Boyle, the ball found its way to Molloy whose low finish gave Diarmaid Mac Donnchadha little chance.
Doherty, Molloy and O’Malley reeled off three successive points as Naomh Conaill took a firm hold.
Antaine Ó Conghaile’s attempt bounced over for An Cheathrú Rua’s first score in 17 minutes, but Naomh Conaill ended the half with Seamus Ellis and Paul McGuinness popping over to secure a healthy 1-7 to 1-1 advantage at the changeover.
Ahead of Donegal’s Ulster SFC semi-final against Down next Sunday, Naomh Conaill were minus Leo McLoone, Ciaran Thompson and Anthony Thompson.
Naomh Conaill lost Molloy at half-time and their attack lacked a punch without his lethal left foot.
O’Malley stretched the lead early in the second half and An Cheathrú Rua’s already-stiff challenge got steeper when Seoighe was sent off for an off-the-ball kick on Ethan O’Donnell.
But the Galway side inched back intuit as Oisín Ó Gríofa, Pádraig Ó Loideáin and Ó Griofa again cut the arrears.
There was just a goal between them when Ó Conghaile struck in the 43rd minute and, without Molloy, the Naomh Conaill stack was without a considerable threat.
An Ó Gríofa brace whittled Naomh Conaill’s lead to just two points 11 minutes from the end.
Sub Eoghan McGettigan scored with his first touch but Ó Briain’s goal rocked Naomh Conaill and they capsized in added time.
An Cheathrú Rua face Wolfe Tones from Meath in tomorrow’s senior final at 4pm.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Aaron Thompson (0-1), Jason Campbell, AJ Gallagher (0-1); Marty Boyle, Ultan Doherty, Eoin Waide; Ethan O’Donnell, Charles McGuinness; Eunan Doherty (0-1), Kevin McGettigan, Seamus Ellis (0-1); Paul McGuinness (0-1), Dermot Molloy (1-2), John O’Malley (0-3f). Subs: Seamus Corcoran for Molloy (half-time), Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí for P. McGuinness (half-time), Eoghan McGettigan (0-1) for C.McGuinness (50), Charles McGuinness for O’Malley (60).
An Cheathrú Rua: Diarmaid Mac Donnchadha; Seán Enda Ó Flátharta, Iarfhlaith Ó Conchubhair, Ian Seoighe; Colin Ó Domhnaill, Ciarán Ó Sé, Liam Mac Donnchadha; Micheál Ó Briain, Séamus Ó Loideáin; Pádraig Ó Loideáin (0-1), Oisín Ó Gríofa (0-4, 2f), Seán Óg Ó Loideáin; Cillín De Paor (0-1), Maitiú Ó Domhnaill (1-1), Antaine Ó Conghaile (0-2). Subs used: Stiofán Ó Briain (1-0), Ciarán Ó Cualáin.
Referee: Enda McFeely (St Mary’s, Convoy).