NAOMH CONAILL DUMPED St Eunan’s out of the Donegal SFC with a victory at Davy Brennan Memorial Park this afternoon.
Naomh Conaill 1-9 St Eunan’s 0-9
The Glenties side join Gaoth Dobhair in the hat for the last eight, with the draw taking place later this evening in Ardara.
The wind made things awkward this afternoon but it was the home side who made the most of things to go in at half-time 1-3 to 0-3 in front.
Dermot Molloy, who missed out last week in the 0-12 to 0-6 defeat at Magheragallon, was first half goalscorer with one of his typically powerful left-footed finishes. Kieran Gallagher laid on the pass with Ethan O’Donnell having also played a telling role.
That came on 14 minutes and put Martin Regan’s side 1-2 to 0-1 in front. Niall O’Donnell had opened the scoring for St Eunan’s prior to points from Kevin McGettigan and Anthony Thompson to arouse the home support.
The trend of defenders having more space to pick their shots continued with Jason Campbell on the mark for Naomh Conaill, while St Eunan’s reached their interval total courtesy of points from Sean Hensey and Conor Parke.
With a superior score difference from their opening two matches, Naomh Conaill knew a draw would be enough against the Letterkenny team who had to plan without the suspended Caolan Ward, who was sent off last weekend in Dungloe.
Rory Kavanagh scored the opening score of the second half, fisting over. However, Naomh Conaill replied with Anthony Thompson’s second score. And when Molloy found a rare glimpse of space to score, Naomh Conaill were 1-5 to 0-4 in front by the three-quarter mark.
Rory Carr managed to get a punch on a dropping Lee McMonagle effort at the other end, only to steer wide.
After a decent enough third quarter, St Eunan’s hadn’t cashed in. Niall O’Donnell pulled one back from a close range free with 10 to play, only for Molloy to score a free from the 45-metre line instantly.
Stephen McGrath, the Naomh Conaill goalkeeper, made vital save from Lee McMonagle, who kicked the ball soccer-style, for the concession of a point.
But when Eoghan McGettigan and then Eoin Waide pointed for Naomh Conaill, their five-point lead was huge. Conor Morrison and Niall O’Donnell did eat into that lead late on but it was a goal that was needed for Maxi Curran’s team.
Jason Campbell made a heroic block from Ross Wherity in injury time to preserve Naomh Conaill’s three-point cushion. And although Niall O’Donnell scored his fourth free just after, it was too little, too late for St Eunan’s. Ciaran Thompson’s point at the bitter end ensured the home win.
St Eunan’s have now not made the last four of the championship since 2015. This year, they’re not even going to be in the last eight. Naomh Conaill will be the group runner-up that everyone wants to avoid.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Aaron Thompson, AJ Gallagher, Jason Campbell (0-1); Kevin McGettigan (0-1), Anthony Thompson (0-2), Eoin Waide (0-1); Kieran Gallagher, Ethan O’Donnell; Marty Boyle, Leo McLoone, Ultan Doherty; Dermot Molloy (1-2, 1f), Ciaran Thompson (0-1), Eunan Doherty. Subs: Eoghan McGettigan (0-1) for U Doherty (43), John O’Malley and U Doherty for E Doherty and Gallagher (56), Seamus Ellis for Molloy (56), Jeaic MacCeallabhui for Ellis (60, black card), E McGettigan (black carded 60+5).
St Eunan’s: Sean Patton; Conor Morrison (0-1), Eamon Doherty, Conor Parke (0-1); Conor O’Donnell, Sean Hensey (0-1), Aaron Deeney; Darragh Mulgrew, Rory Kavanagh (0-1); Niall O’Donnell (0-4, 4f), Michael Miller, Sean McVeigh; Conor Gibbons, Rory Carr, Conor ‘Duck’ O’Donnell. Subs: Lee McMonagle (0-1) for Gibbons (43), Conall Dunne for C ‘Duck’ O’Donnell (48), Ross Wherity for Carr (51), Peter McEniff for Miller (black card, 60).
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs).