All square in dour encounter in Ballybofey as Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill end level

All square in dout encounter in Ballybofey as Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill end level

Eamon McGee goes down after a collision with Brendan McDyer Picture: Thomas Gallagher

Reigning champions Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill must meet again on Sunday next after they could not be separated in the Donegal senior final in Ballybofey

Gaoth Dobhair 0-8
Naomh Conaill 0-8

In truth neither side deserved to lose, but it wasn't a classic for the attendance of 4,800. Defences were on top with Naomh Conaill determined not to lose a third final in-a-row.
Gaoth Dobhair went from one down at the break to go two up in the second half but Naomh Conaill rallied late on to get the draw.
Indeed, it was Naomh Conaill who had the chances to win it at the death but they elected to go for a couple of efforts from outside the '45' from John O'Malley and Dermot Molloy, but they were off target.
It was a dogged affair throughout with plenty of championship type tackles and no quarter asked or given. It was also very well controlled by referee Enda McFeely - a big weekend for him as he had got married on the previous Friday.
With the replay set for Sunday next and stand-by referee on Sunday, Jimmy White, in charge, we could be set for another major battle. And we should not be thinking that it will be anything other than another tactical battle.
Both sides had periods of dominance in this game but accuracy was not of the highest order with Gaoth Dobhair recording eight and Naomh Conaill nine wides. But in what was a really dour affair, it was always interesting. My free count had Gaoth Dobhair winning 15 frees to Naomh Conaill's 10.
The last draw in a Donegal senior final was back in 2005 and Naomh Conaill will have good memories of that year as they defeated St Eunans in the replay, which was the start of their great run at senior level.

Gaoth Dobhair owned the ball for the first eight minutes but had just two points to show for it. Naomh Conaill's issue was with kick-outs. Goalkeeper Stephen McGreath was unlucky for the opening score as his short kick to Ultan Doherty yielded a lucky free for Gaoth Dobhair. It seemed as if Doherty was fouled. To add to Naomh Conaill's woes, the kick was moved on and Eamonn Collum had a tap over free.
Cian Mulligan added a second Gaoth Dobhair point on eight minutes after an effort from Odhran McFadden Ferry, who was through on goal, was saved by Stephen McGrath with the rebound going straight to Mulligan.
Naomh Conaill eventually got going on nine minutes with Ethan O'Donnell winning a free for Eoghan McGettigan to get them on the board.
Dáire Ó Baoill had the ball over the bar after a great run but he was pulled back for overcarrying and on 17 minutes Naomh Conaill were back on terms when Charles McGuinness won the free for Eoghan McGettigan to point.
And while Odhrán MacNiallais edged Gaoth Dobhair ahead on 20 minutes, winning and pointing a free, Naomh Conaill began to get a foothold.
After a really tasty part of the half with some really tough tackling and ball being turned over, Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui came forward to level matters and Brendan McDyer (after being just off target seconds earlier) edged Naomh Conaill ahead for the first time on 25 minutes.
Captain Niall Friel came forward to get his customary score and level matters again on 26 minutes but it was Eoghan McGettigan who had the final say of the half, pointing a free on 29 minutes to send the underdogs racing to the dressing room a point in front.
Half-time: Naomh Conaill 0-5, Gaoth Dobhair 0-4.
Just before the break the unfortunate Kieran Gillespie pulled up for Gaoth Dobhair with a leg injury and he was replaced for the second half by Christopher 'Ginger' McFadden.
Charles McGuinness doubled the Naomh Conaill lead inside 17 seconds but Gaoth Dobhair were back on terms with points from Collum (free) and Niall Friel. And veteran full-back Neil McGee drove forward to fire his side back in front on 40 minutes.
Scores were hard to come by but a great break from Seaghan Ferry and Odhrán McFadden Ferry saw Gavin McBride loft a wonder point from outside the '45' on 47 minutes to open a 0-8 to 0-6 lead for the Gaoth Dobhair men.
However, it was to be their last score of the game. Naomh Conaill at last found their game again in the final 1o minutes. Eoghan McGettigan pointed a free on 54 minutes, only their second of the half, and two minutes later Ciaran Thompson levelled from a '45'.
Gavin McBride picked up a black card for an off the ball block on Kevin McGettigan with Gaoth Dobhair on the attack and it could have been fatal.
However, Naomh Conaill were unable to avail of almost total possession in the four minutes of added time, recording a couple of wides from distance, so both sides will have to go again on Sunday next.

Scorers - Gaoth Dobhair: Niall Friel 0-02; Eamonn Collum 0-02,0-2f; Neil McGee, Cian Mulligan, Odhran Mac Niallais (f), Gavin McBride 0-01 each.
Naomh Conaill: Eoghan McGettigan 0-04,0-04f; Brendan McDyer, Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui, Charles McGuinness, Ciaran Thompson ('45') 0-01 each

NAOMH CONAILL: Stephen McGrath; Ultan Doherty, AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan; Ethan O'Donnell, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson, Leo McLoone; Brendan McDyer, Eoghan McGettigan, Eunan Doherty; Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui, Charles McGuinness, Kieran Gallagher.
Subs: Dermot Molloy for McGuinness, Nathan Byrne for K Gallagher, both 43; John O'Malley for McDyer 53

GAOTH DOBHAIR: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Kieran Gillespie; Niall Friel, Dan McBride, Dáire Ó Baoill; Michael Carroll, Eamon McGee; Odhrán McFadden Ferry, Odhrán Mac Niallais, Naoise Ó Baoill; Cian Mulligan, Kevin Cassidy, Eamonn Collum.
Subs: Christopher McFadden for Gillespie ht; Seaghan Ferry for C McFadden 36; Gavin McBride for Collum 43; Peter McGee for N Ó Baoill 56; Ethan Harkin for McBride bcard 63
REFEREE: Enda McFeely (Convoy)

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