Dermot Molloy’s goal in the 12th minute was the difference throughout and the separator at the finish as Naomh Conaill overcame Glenswilly to reach their eighth Donegal SFC final.
Naomh Conaill 1-11 Glenswilly 0-12
By Chris McNulty at Sean MacCumhaill Park
Molloy blasted past James Gallagher and it kept Naomh Conaill in front – but only just – for the duration.
Glenswilly did come back to within a point ten minutes from time, but Naomh Conaill were able to find the answers on a night when Glenswilly left with plenty of questions – the biggest of them concerning the timing of the final whistle.
When Shaun McLaughlin called for the ball, the stopwatch showed 33 minutes and 33 seconds had been played – 27 seconds short of the allotted four minutes.
Michael Murphy had just played a free short to sub Kealan McFadden, who was eyeing up the target in a crowded goalmouth when the whistle shrilled.
Naomh Conaill, last year’s beaten finalists by Kilcar, are back and they were the deserving winners on the night.
The goal arrived in the 12th minute. Brendan McDyer profited after a rare error in giving away possession by Eamonn Ward. McDyer popped over the the top for Molloy and the former Donegal panellist smashed emphatically beyond Gallagher.
It was the winning of the game.
The semi-final pairings meant that there was at least one guarantee beforehand: that for the 12th time in the last 14 Championships, one of these two would march behind the band for the county final.
They’d had previous in semi-finals, with Naomh Conaill winning the 2010 meeting courtesy of two late goals from Anthony Thompson and Leon Thompson, while Glenswilly held sway in their clash four years ago.
After an error-ridden opening four minutes, that had two wides apiece, Glenswilly hit the front through Mark McAteer.
Moments later, Neil Gallagher fed Michael Murphy for a trademark Glenswilly score.
By the time the Glen men next scored, in the 20th minute, Naomh Conaill had punched 1-3 in the intervening 14 minutes – including the blistering Molloy goal.
Molloy had only just posted a monster point from just shy of the ’45 when he found the net, while Leo McLoone’s left-footed effort had Naomh Conaill four to the good.
Murphy, off the left, swung over to get Glenswilly back on track and they crept even closer as Gary McFadden and Cormac Gallagher hit two inside of a minute.
As they retreated for the dressing room at the interval, McLoone had Naomh Conaill 1-5 to 0-5 to the good. McLoone had goal on his mind as he took possession, after Joe Gibbons fisted it away, but he had to settle for a point.
Molloy’s goal was looking ever more precious with each passing minute and the Glenties men were also thankful for a big interception from AJ Gallagher as he seized the ball from Brian Farrelly, as he latched onto a Murphy knockdown.
Naomh Conaill just couldn’t pull away and when Gary McFadden posted a free ten minutes for the end, Glenswilly were just a point in arrears.
Seconds earlier, Joe Gibbons prodded over after Murphy and Gallagher – exchanging sentries now – worked in tandem again, this time Gallagher batting down a Murphy delivery.
Murphy had landed a huge 48-metre free, after Eunan Doherty pulled Brian Farrelly to the floor, and Caoimhin Marley drilled over a delightful score as Glenswilly slid into contention.
Midway through the second half, Anthony Thompson showed his leadership. Holding off the attentions of a posse of Glenswilly defenders, Thompson’s strength took him through and he got enough on the shot to take it over.
Down the home stretch, Ciaran Thompson converted a free and substitute Eoghan McGettigan gave them room to breath.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Kevin McGettigan, AJ Gallagher, Jason Campbell; Marty Boyle, Anthony Thompson (0-1), Eoin Waide; Ethan O’Donnell (0-1), Kieran Gallagher; Brendan McDyer (0-1), Leo McLoone (0-2), Ultan Doherty; Dermot Molloy (1-2, 1f), Ciaran Thompson (0-2f), Eunan Doherty (0-1). Subs: Eoghan McGettigan (0-1) for Gallagher (49), John O’Malley for Doherty (60), Kieran Gallagher for Molloy (62), Aaron Thompson for McDyer (black card, 63).
Glenswilly: James Gallagher; Mark McAteer, Eamonn Ward, Ruairi Crawford; Joe Gibbons (0-1), Cathal Gallagher (0-2), Caolan Kelly; Shaun Wogan, Neil Gallagher; Oisin Crawford, Caoimhin Marley (0-2), Cormac Callaghan; Brian Farrelly, Michael Murphy (0-4, 2f), Gary McFadden (0-2f). Subs: Ryan Diver for Gibbons (56), Kealan McFadden for Farrelly (56), Ciaran Gibbons for O.Crawford (60), Leon Kelly for C.Gallagher (60).
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin (Malin).Tags: