Malin qualified for the quarter finals of the Intermediate championship courtesy of an impressive nine-point win over Naomh Muire in an eerily deserted Connolly Park on Saturday evening.
Malin 1-17 Naomh Muire 1-8
Robert Farren’s men took the field knowing that a win was a must if they were to join their opponents in the knock out stages and they got off to an ideal start when Josh Conlon pointed in the opening minute.
Owen Martin replied minutes later with a long range free wide on the left. An excellent score from Charlie Byrne after some fine fielding from Sean O Neill restored home sides lead, Paul Fildara increased the advantage with a well judged free into a strong breeze to leave two between the sides.
The west Donegal side soon threatened and a lapse in the home sides defense allowed Danny Devlin in, he cut across the bye line and found Owen Martin, the county minor made no mistake and palmed the ball to the net to put his side a point to the good.
Within a minute Christy Fildara pointed from a placed ball to tie the game at 0-4 to 1-1.
The home side went back in front after a sweeping move from their own half back line resulted in Josh Conlon claiming a mark and slotting the ball over the bar. Naomh Muire soon tied proceedings when Jack O Donnell fired over and then edged in front when Owen Martin tapped over a close range free to put the Annagry side a point ahead with minutes 14 minutes on the clock.
Play swept from side to side and it wasn’t long before Benny Fildara raised the white flag to level the game once again.
The impressive Josh Conlon was proving to be a handful for the visitors back line and was at the end of another well worked move to fire over and put the initiative back in Malin’s hands as the sides took the first water break of the evening.
Straight from the restart Naomh Muire went on the attack and were awarded a 35 metre free and netminder Declan Ward ventured up field, Cluxtonesque and dropped the ball between the posts, to tie the game once again.
Damian Harkin and Conor Farren then combined to feed Christy Fildara who fired over from all of 40 yards, to nose his side back in the lead, 0-8 to 1-4. The same player increased Malin’s advantage to two points soon after, when fielding superbly and driving through the heart of the Naomh Muire defence before pointing.
An Owen Martin free reduced the defecit to the bare minimum but the home side then hit a bit of a purple patch in the closing stages of the half. First Conor Farren claimed a mark and got an excellent score on the left hand side.
Then the tigerish Gary Farren broke up another dangerous N. Mhuire attack, the ball was quickly worked up to Benny Fildara who found Josh Conlon, and Conlon made no mistake as he drove the ball past the advancing Ward to put his side 1-10 to 1-5 in front. An exquisite long range free from Christy Fildara against the breeze on the stroke of half time left Malin six points ahead at the break.
Both sides started the second half in determined fashion, and Conlon continued from where he left off at the restart with an excellent score after been set up by Sean O Neill.
The Naomh Muire attack were struggling to get much change from Ciaran Doherty, Gary Farren and Damian Harkin in the Malin backline as they put an end to many of the visitors attack in the opening stages of the half, but Owen Martin did manage to reduce the deficit with a well struck long range effort.
Malin were beginning to dominate the midfield area and picking up most of the breaking ball and some route one football paid dividends when a pin point pass from Conlon found Benny Fildara, who claimed a mark and coolly slotted over to extend the Malin lead back out to seven points.
Conlon, who was popping up all over the field and causing havoc was soon hauled down after wining possession on the half way line, which resulted in a sweetly struck long range free straight off the ground from the boot of Christy Fildara to extend the home sides advantage to eight points.
Malin were in complete control at this stage and Conor Mc Colgan thwarted another Naomh Muire attack, with Harkin picking up the loose ball before finding Sean O Neill got kicked an excellent score as the sides paused for a well earned water break, with Malin in front by nine points.
Daniel Devlin finally ended the visitors barren run in front of the posts after, Paddy McClafferty had done the spade work before releasing Cian Ward, Mc Clafferty, a teacher in Carndonagh Community School lining out against a few of his former pupils helping to hand out the punishment.
Naomh Muire keeper Ward had another chance to get his name on the score sheet after Devlin was hauled down, but this time the former county minor keeper was unable to replicate his first half effort and the ball curled wide.
Both sides were aware the scoring averages would play an important role in deciding the finishing position in the group, a top four finish would ensure a home tie in the quarter finals for Naomh Muire and they squandered a good opportunity when Owen Martin floated a free into the danger area but Gillespie saw his fisted effort find the side netting.
With Martin taking over the free taking duties from Ward, he decided to go it alone this time and saw his sweetly struck effort sail high over the bar to make it a seven-point game.
Dan Mc Daid brought the scoring to an end on 28th min of the half after some great work by substitute Matthew Mullarkey to leave Malin victors by nine points.
The win sees Malin make the long trek to Glencolmcille to take on Naomh Columba in the knock out stages, while Naomh Muire are also on the road where they take on Aodh Ruadh in Ballyshannon in a fortnight’s time.
Malin: Darragh Mc Laughlin, Gary Farren, Ciaran Doherty, Keelan White, Kieran Mc Colgan, Damian Harkin, Conor Farren, Sean O Neill, Christy Mc Laughlin, Conor Mc Colgan, Paul Mc Laughlin, Josh Conlon, Benny Mc Laughlin, Charlie Byrne. Subs Adam McGonagle, Matthew Mullarkey, Dan McDaid and Daniel Houghton
Naomh Muire: Declan Ward, Ultan Boyle, Brian Gillespie, Owen Boyle, Shane Boyle, Cian Ward, Conor Cannon, Daniel Ward, Tuathal Lunny, Joey Gillespie, Paddy Mc Clafferty, Jack O Donnell, Fintan Doherty, Daniel Devlin, Owen Martin. Subs Michael Green, Padraig Mc Cafferty, Lawerence Coyle, Danny Ward. Hugh Sweeney and Hugh MartinTags: