13-man Naomh Conaill edge past spirited Killybegs into Donegal SFC semi-finals

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FIRST HALF GOALS from Eoghan McGettigan and Dermot Molloy sealed 13-man Naomh Conaill’s place in the semi-finals of the Donegal SFC – despite the best efforts of Killybegs’ Hugh McFadden.

Naomh Conaill 2-13 Killybegs 0-15

McFadden scored 12 of Killybegs’ 15 points – with only John Ban Gallagher, Daniel Breslin and Evan Broderick getting on the scoresheet for the Gary Connaghan’s outfit – but in the end Naomh Conaill had too many strings to their bow at Ardara’ Pearse Park.

Eunan Doherty was dismissed for a second yellow card five minutes from time. Then, with Killybegs putting on the pressure on Ethan O’Donnell was also sent to the line for picking up a second booking.

Leo McLoone made a fleeting appearance having lined out for Donegal New York this summer, for the final 14 minutes. Donegal New York play Monaghan in the Senior Championship final at Gaelic Park in the Bronx tomorrow night with McLoone believed to be making the trip.

A McGettigan goal on 12 minutes set the Glenties based side on their way. McGettigan swiveled to shoot past Michael Mullen in Killybegs goal on 11 minutes after a daring break from centre-field by Ethan O’Donnell and a final pass from Ultan Doherty.

That made the score 1-2 to 0-2 to the team managed by Martin Regan and although McFadden’s free and point from play right afterwards brought Killybegs back to within in a point, the Fishermen were thankful for a fine save from their goalkeeper Mullen from McGettigan again.

Naomh Conaill did, though, add a second goal in somewhat controversial circumstances on 17 minutes. Ciaran Thompson had made an avenue for himself to shoot for a point on the right. His effort was skewed and dropped shot and Mullen in the Killybegs goal made a decent claim in the air.

But Dermot Molloy had his eyes on the ball and punched it into the net, with Killybegs’ appeals to referee Robbie O’Donnell claiming Mullen had the ball in both hands falling on deaf ears. Those in the blue corner felt Mullen didn’t have the ball in his grasp.

McFadden moved inside late in the half and certainly caused Naomh Conaill’s defence some unease. The Donegal player scored an excellent score from play late in the half and then was baring down on goal before being fouled by AJ Gallagher and pointing the free.

At half-time Naomh Conaill were in front, 2-5 to 0-8, with John O’Malley kicking over the last point of the first half.

Scores from Molloy and O’Malley stretched the Naomh Conaill lead out to five but McFadden, with two more, soon restored Killybegs’ belief, 2-7 to 0-10 down on 43 minutes prior to a nerve settler from Brendan McDyer. Ciaran Thompson fetched in style at midfield to edge his team back to five in front.

O’Malley knocked over a couple of scores before the sendings off but Naomh Conaill always kept themselves that little but in front and got through in the end.

Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Kevin McGettigan, AJ Gallagher, Jason Campbell; Eunan Doherty, Anthony Thompson (0-2), Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson (0-1), Ethan O’Donnell; Eoghan McGettigan (1-2), Dermot Molloy (1-3, 1f), Ultan Doherty; Brendan McDyer (0-1), Jeaic Mac Ceallbhuí, John O’Malley (0-4, 2f). Subs: Johnny McLoone for Mac Ceallbhuí (half-time), Aaron Thompson for Gallagher (37, black card), Leon Thompson for U Doherty (43), Leo McLoone for McGettigan (47), Johnny Bonner for O’Malley (56), Kieran Gallagher for McDyer (60)

Killybegs: Michael Mullen; Christopher Cunningham, Ciaran Connaghan, Steven Muirhead; David McGuinness, Shane Molloy, Owen Gallagher; Hugh McFadden (0-12, 11f), Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Daniel Breslin (0-1), John Ban Gallagher (0-1), Dónal Keeney; Evan Broderick (0-1), Brendan McGuire, Pauric Connaghan. Subs: Sean Gorrell for P Connaghan (45)

Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Muire)

MA in Journalism graduate from NUI Galway and BBS Marketing and NC in Online Marketing from LyIT, who has worked covering sport in Donegal since 2004. Part of Donegal Democrat who won McNamee awards in 2013 and 2015 for 'best provincial publication'. Reseacher for 'Jimmy's Winnin' Matches' documentary and Rory Kavanagh's autobiography 'Winning'

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