28 Nov 2021

Naomh Conaill flex their muscle to oust Gaoth Dobhair

Naomh Conaill flex their muscle to oust Gaoth Dobhair

Michael Carroll of Gaoth Dobhair and Ethan O'Donnell from Naomh Conaill. Photo Thomas Gallagher

Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí’s 20th minute goal fired Naomh Conaill on their way to the Donegal SFC semi-finals.

Naomh Conaill 1-10
Gaoth Dobhair 0-8

The goal took Naomh Conaill into a position of control and from the moment he struck gold they never looked in danger of being reeled in.

Under the glow of the MacCumhaill Park lights, it was an outing that saw Naomh Conaill deliver an emphatic message to anyone doubting their powers.

Martin Regan’s team are now unbeaten in their last 23 games in all competitions, their last defeat coming against Kilcoo in the 2019 Ulster club final.

The margin was wider than many predicted, but Naomh Conaill, who still aren’t operating at full-strength, were well worth their five-point win, which tees up a crunch clash with Kilcar next weekend.

The teams were deadlocked, at 0-2 apiece, when Anthony Thompson sent Mac Ceallabhuí on his way. Mac Ceallabhuí scuttled his way down the left channel and kept his composure to fire a low shot past Christopher Sweeney.

Ciaran Thompson curled over a free before Ultan Doherty’s fisted point left Naomh Conaill 1-4 to 0-3 in front at half-time.

It was something of a slow-burner to begin with, Donal Mac Giolla Bhríde opening the scoring for Gaoth Dobhair in the ninth minute.

Odhrán Mac Niallais doubled the lead three minutes later, but the Maghergallaon men wouldn’t score again until the 31st minute when Eamonn Collum tapped over a free. Gaoth Dobhair misfired at times and will certainly have left feeling as if they could have done more.

Mac Ceallabhuí got Naomh Conaill off the mark in the 14th minute, delightfully firing over off the outside of the boot.

Kevin McGettigan profited when Charles McGuinness managed to retain possession in spite of the close attention of a trio of Gaoth Dobhair defenders. McGettigan’s point had the teams level, 0-2 apiece, at the first water break.

When these sides met in the 2019 SFC final, it took three games to separate them. Even then, there was just the kick of a ball between them, Naomh Conaill prevailing 0-8 to 0-7 and dethroning the then reigning Ulster champions.

When Mac Ceallabhuí arrowed into the Town End net, there was an ominous feeling about it all. In the closing minutes of the first half, Gaoth Dobhair called on the experience and power of Eamon McGee, who has been absent because of injury recently, in a bid to get back into the contest.

Eoghan McGettigan’s cruciate injury, sustained in the lead-up to the 2020 SFC final in August, left Naomh Conaill without one of their marquee players for this campaign.

Naomh Conaill also began here without AJ Gallagher, Ciaran Brennan and Kieran Gallagher from their starting XV.

Dáire Ó Baoill reduced the arrears with the first point of part two, but Naomh Conaill’s response was swift, Ciaran Thompson registering from the next attack.

A brace from the excellent Eunan Doherty stretched the margin further before Anthony Thompson kicked them into a 1-8 to 0-5 when the mentors reached into the basket for water again.

Keelan McGill hit Naomh Conaill’s fourth point in a row and captain Thompson had their final say with Gaoth Dobhair sub Michael Lynch black carded in the closing stages.

Naomh Conaill have possession of Dr Maguire - and their fingers won’t be easy prised off the silverware.

Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, James Ó Baoill; Neasán Mac Giolla Bhríde, Donal Mac Giolla Bhríde (0-1), Niall Friel; Dáire Ó Baoill (0-1), Michael Carroll (0-1); Cian Mulligan, Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-3, 2f), Naoise Ó Baoill; Eamonn Collum (0-2f), Ethan Harkin, Odhrán McFadden-Ferry. Subs: Eamon McGee for Harkin (28), Michael Lynch for N Mac Giolla Bhríde (39).

Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Ultan Doherty (0-1), Jason Campbell, Kevin McGettigan (0-1); Ethan O’Donnell, Anthony Thompson (0-1), Eoin Waide; Leo McLoone, Ciaran Thompson (0-3, 1f); Eunan Doherty (0-2), Odhran Doherty, Keelan McGill (0-1); Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí (1-1), Charles McGuinness, Marty Boyle.Subs: Brendan McDyre for O.Doherty (55), Nathan Byrne for McGill (59).

Referee: Enda McFeely (St Mary’s, Convoy).

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.