Nathan Byrne of Naomh Conaill gets past Sean McGettigan of St Eunan's Picture: Geraldine Diver
In a controversial finish Naomh Conaill came from three down to reach their fourth Donegal senior final in-a-row with an extra-time win over St Eunan's.
Naomh Conaill 1-10
St Eunan's 0-12
It was heartbreak for the Letterkenny boys who seemed to have the game wrapped up as they went three clear in added time, but the one thing that is always present, Naomh Conaill again knew how to win a game.
Naomh Conaill somehow engineered a goal with Leo McLoone challenging St Eunan's 'keeper Shaun Patton as he collected an effort for a point from Eoghan McGettigan. The ball (and Patton) ended in the net but referee Seamus McGonigle ruled it okay.
On another day it would have been a free out nine times out of ten and Naomh Conaill manager, Martin Regan, admitted that in an aftermatch interview.
Naomh Conaill started without their talisman Ciaran Thompson, but he made a difference when introduced in the second half. And he was on hand to loft a magnificent winner in the final minutes from near the sideline under the stand. It was a point worthy of winning any game.
But overall, it was a contest that never really excited. The interest was intense only because of the closeness of the contest and it looked at one stage that we were headed for a penalty shoot-out.
In a cagey affair in the opening half Charlie McGuinness and Sean McGettigan traded points in the opening two minutes.
McGuinness added another thirty seconds later after good work by Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui and Nathan Byrne landed a beauty from distance on 14 minutes.
There would not be another score until the 26th minute when Caolan Ward set up Peter McEniff and a minute later Ward found Padraig McGettigan with a high ball and McGettigan did really well to win possession and turn and point to level matters.
There followed a scuffle which saw two yellows and a red handed out. AJ Gallagher was the recipient of the red card. Referee Seamus McGonigle consulted with linesman and umpires before issuing the card.
Charlie McGuinness had the opening score of the second half, converting a free on 34 minutes as the game continued to be close.
Ultan Doherty came forward to double the lead but Niall O'Donnell responded from a free.
Eoghan McGettigan got the better of Conor Parke to swing over a very good point, but again Niall O'Donnell won and pointed a free to leave a point still in it at the second half water break. Naomh Conaill 0-6, St Eunan's 0-5.
Conor O'Donnell jnr, just on the field, levelled matters on 18 minutes with a good point from distance.
As added time was announced veteran Brendan McDyer pushed Naomh Conaill two clear but St Eunan's cut the lead after good work by Eoin McGeehin and Conor O'Donnell snr tapped over.
Naomh Conaill were down to 13 when Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui pulled Conor O'Donnell jnr back. From the free the ball was cleared off the Naomh Conaill line on two occasions with Kevin McGettigan doing heroic work. Conor O'Donnell fired from close range but was unable to get it through a crowded goalmouth.
The Letterkenny men won another free close to the sideline and Niall O'Donnell stepped up to the plate to swing over the equaliser and force extra-time.
Sean McVeigh edged ahead St Eunan's ahead for the first time in the game a minute into added time. However, a minute from the end of the first period Brendan McDyer found the range from a very acute angle to level matters again.
Conor O'Donnell jnr struck again to put the Letterkenny men back in front and Eoin McGeehin did great work to set up another point, Sean McVeigh palming his cross just over the crossbar.
Niall O'Donnell made it a three point game a minute into the second period of extra-time. But the sides were level on 74 minutes when an Eoghan McGettigan effort dropped short.
Shaun Patton fielded but was bumped by Leo McLoone and the ball ended in the net with the score being allowed.
Then in the final minute Ciaran Thompson landed the winner from close to the sideline with a magnificent effort to edge the contest.
ST EUNAN'S: Shaun Patton; Peter Devine, Eamon Doherty, Conor Parke (0-1); Caolan Ward, Aaron Deeney, Peter McEniff; Conor O’Donnell snr, Sean McGettigan (0-1); James Kelly, Niall O’Donnell (0-5,3f), Shane O’Donnell; Brian McIntyre, Padraig McGettigan (0-1), Eoin McGeehin. Subs Rory Kavanagh for Kelly 7; Darragh Mulgrew for S McGettigan 41; Conor O'Donnell jnr (0-2) for B McIntyre 45; Sean McVeigh (0-2) for R Kavanagh; Kevin Kealy for Devine, both 58; Niall Hannigan for P McGettigan 60+6; Darragh Toal Deeney 60+17
NAOMH CONAILL: Stephen McGrath; Kevin McGettigan, AJ Gallagher, Ultan Doherty (0-1); Odhran Doherty, Anthony Thompson, Ethan O’Donnell; Leo McLoone (1-0), Nathan Byrne (0-1); Eunan Doherty (0-1), Eoghan McGettigan (0-1), Marty Boyle; Dermot Molloy, Charles McGuinness (0-3,2f); Jeaic Mac Ceallbhuí. Subs: Ciaran Thompson (0-1) for D Molloy 45; Brendan McDyer (0-2) for N Byrne 50; Ciaran Brennan for O Doherty 56; Seamus Corcoran for E McGettigan 61; Eoghan McGettigan and Jason Campbell for AJ Gallagher and Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui (extra time); Keelan McGill for M Boyle 60+9; Dermot Molloy for Corcoran; John O'Malley
REFEREE: Seamus McGonigle (Aodh Ruadh)
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