NAOMH CONAILL made it three-from-three and booked a spot in the Donegal SFC quarter-finals as the Group B winners.
Naomh Conaill Sean MacCumhaills
by Chris McNulty at Davy Brennan Memorial Park
In a rugged contest in fading light in Glenties, the natives did enough to avoid a slip, holding MacCumhaills at arm’s length for the most part.
Late points by Darren O’Leary and Chad McSorely reduced the arrears for MacCumhaills, who had to win here to have any hope of making it into the knockout rounds again.
Semi-finalists last year, MacCumhaills couldn’t get close enough in the closing moments with Naomh Conaill doing the necessary for a three-point win to maintain their perfect record so far in the Championship.
MacCumhaills came to within four points on five different occasions in the second half, while McSorely’s late point had a goal between them, but Naomh Conaill – who finished with 14 men as Eoghan McGettigan was sent off for a second yellow card – didn’t look likely to let their advantage slip.
Ciaran Thompson’s (pictured) free from wide on the right was the final nail for the visitors, who managed to survive a scare when McGettigan’s ball across goal just evaded the grasp of AJ Gallagher, who was lurking with real intent for a goal that would’ve killed it.
The opening exchanges were as terse as they were tense.
Tempers boiled and simmered for long spells thereafter with Seamus McGonagle, the referee, showing four yellow cards in the first six minutes, two for each team.
MacCumhaills’ Andrew McCloskey was cautioned and his exchange required a change of jersey with his number 6 torn. The card count was out to seven when they parted ways at the interval.
Thompson fired wide from a penalty after six minutes after a foot block in a crowded goalmouth when Ciaran Gallagher and Charles McGuinnes combined to cut MacCumhaills open. Thompson’s left-footed attempt flew wide and MacCumhaills could breath.
The fiery exchanges at the start, with as much to watch off the ball as on it, would settle and Naomh Conaill warmed to open up a three-point advantage.
Oisin Gallen, who heads off to Australia for a two-week Australian Rules trial, fired over two early points for the Twin Towns men. Gallen’s opening point arrived after Darren O’Leary was thwarted by a block from Thompson.
They wouldn’t trouble the board again until the final minute of the half.
By then, Naomh Conaill led 0-5 to 0-3, with Luke Gavigan arrowing over for the visitors after their hosts took a command.
Leo McLoone had Naomh Conaill level and young Nathan Byrne, who had a fine hour in the home engine room, soared over the leveller.
Ciaran Thompson, Dermot Molloy, from a free, and Byrne again helped Martin Regan’s side lead by two at the short whistle. It had taken a goal-line block by Nathan Gavigan to keep out Eoghan McGettigan’s powerful shot, which seemed destined for the net in the 14th minute.
Later, Padhraic Patton did well to block from Thompson as Naomh Conaill smelled blood.
MacCumhaills had beaten Dungloe thanks to Gallen’s five-star display on the opening day, but a loss in Fintra to Killybegs last weekend had them in the last chance saloon as they headed through Fintown this evening.
Naomh Conaill pulled away in the third quarter, as they moved five ahead.
Former Donegal forward Molloy grabbed two points while Kieran Gallagher put them in front by a handful.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Hughie Gallagher, AJ Gallagher, Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí; Eunan Doherty, Anthony Thompson (0-1), Ethan O’Donnell; Ciaran Thompson (0-2, 1f), Nathan Byrne (0-2); Brendan McDyre, Eoghan McGettigan, Kieran Gallagher (0-2); Dermot Molloy (0-3, 1f), Charles McGuinness (0-1f), Leo McLoone (0-1). Subs: Ultan Doherty for McGuinness (44), Marty Boyle for Byrne (44), Eoin Waide for H.Gallagher (46), Seamus Corcoran for McDyer (57).
Sean MacCumhaills: Eoin Gallen; Conor Griffin, Marty Gallagher, Ronan McMenamin; Gary Dunnion, Andrew McCloskey, Gavin Gallagher; Padhraic Patton, Nathan Gavigan; Luke Gavigan (0-1), Gary Wilson (0-1), Stephen Mulligan; Oisin Gallen (0-3), Darren O’Leary, (0-2f) Martin O’Reilly (0-1). Subs: Chad McSorely (0-1) for Mulligan (44), Adam Lynch for Griffin (44), Steven O’Reilly for Wilson (57).
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh).Tags: