THE DONEGAL SFC will go to a second replay after a dramatic second meeting of Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill ended all square.
Gaoth Dobhair 0-14 Naomh Conaill 1-11 (after extra-time)
In a contest that got more and more exciting the longer it went on, with the sun was setting on MacCumhaill Park with both sides refusing to wilt. Tactics went out the window. It went down to whose heart eat the longest. In the end, they both barely were beating – but time had to be called.
They will go again – take three – on Wednesday night at 8pm.
Naomh Conaill were three points down in extra-time and looked, finally, beaten, only to rally to move one in front entering injury time in extra-time. with Ethan O’Donnell punching over. However, a patchwork Gaoth Dobhair managed to scrape a second replay from a match they looked like winning when Seaghan Ferry levelled in the 82ndminute.
The first half seemed like an eternity beforehand.
Gaoth Dobhair’s Odhrán MacNiallais and Naomh Conaill’s Kieran Gallagher. Photo Evan Logan
The first time Martin Regan’s team went long, they got rewarded. Brendan McDyer laid the ball in and, as it dropped, Eunan Doherty was pulled and referee Jimmy White signalled for a penalty.
Charlie McGuinness sent Christopher Sweeney the wrong way in the 10thminute. It was the first score of the contest, with Gaoth Dobhair having kicked four wides beforehand, and showed the economy shown by Naomh Conaill.
Before either umpire was bothered, there were a couple of scares for Naomh Conaill. On four minutes, Daire Ó Baoill made ground down the left and his centre had to be clawed away by AJ Gallagher.
Then, as Niall Friel looked to be shooting for a point, he didn’t get enough purchase on the shot and Stephen McGrath in the Naomh Conaill goal had to be alert to avert the danger.
However, Gaoth Dobhair got their account open by the 13thminute, from an Odhran MacNiallais free, only for Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí to score the point of half for Naomh Conaill from an acute angle in front of the stand.
At 1-1 to 0-1, the underdogs’ bark could be heard. Gaoth Dobhair came into it with MacNiallais and Cian Mulligan scoring, although the team from the Gaeltacht breathed a sigh of relief when Kieran Gallagher just missed another booming ball into their square.
Gaoth Dobhair were frustrated on 20 minutes when Naoise Ó Baoill got moving after a short kick-out from McGrath didn’t work and was fouled as the ball was played to Gavin McBride. Referee White whistled for a foul as the ball hit the Naomh Conaill net, with McBride the one providing the finish. Gaoth Dobhair had to be content with a point, which was routinely posted by MacNiallais from the free they didn’t want in the first place.
Naomh Conaill’s point late in the half came from Eunan Doherty, who blazed over when a 45 fell short. At the break, though, it was 0-6 to 1-2 for Gaoth Dobhair, thanks to injury time scores from Eamon McGee and Mulligan. Mervyn O’Donnell’s team had also kicked eight first half wides.
The Ulster champions made three changes from the side who drew 0-8 to 0-8 in the original final last week, with Kieran Gillespie, Odhran McFadden-Ferry and Eamonn Collum being replaced by Seaghan Ferry, James O Baoill and McBride. Naomh Conaill went with the same 15 as seven days’ beforehand.
Sweeney, the Gaoth Dobhair goalkeeper, had to be on his toes to pluck a shot on the turn from Gallagher after the restart, although at the other end, Eamonn Collum, who had replaced McBride late in the first half, had doubled the Gaoth Dobhair advantage.
But Naomh Conaill came right back to level with a point from Ciaran Thompson and then a free from Eoghan McGettigan on 35 minutes, 1-4 to 0-7. The crowd were coming to life.
As things ebbed and flowed, chances were continually missed at both ends, although Michael Carroll had his cue chalked to put Gaoth Dobhair one up on 46 minutes.
Seven minutes from time, some fine direct running from Naoise Ó Baoill laid on a MacNiallais score for a 0-9 to 1-4 Gaoth Dobhair lead.
Dermot Molloy passed up a chance to win it last week with an optimistic effort but was on the money to pull back a replay point on 55 minutes and then saw a second effort from a similar position fall short into Sweeney’s hands. It was a one-point game.
Gaoth Dobhair sat in and let Naomh Conaill play in front of them as the sands of time continued to thin. Ciaran Thompson, from an acute angle, on the right, levelled it up from a difficult free. It was Naomh Conaill who were pushing for the winner but couldn’t work a chance nor buy a free. Full-time: Gaoth Dobhair 0-9 Naomh Conaill 1-6.
Extra-time would consist of two periods of 10 minutes with both teams agreeing to a Wednesday second replay rather than a penalty shootout today. Both teams are emailed during the week about having a shootout today. Neither replied.
Donegal’s representatives in the Ulster Club SFC are due in Cavan this coming Sunday.
At the break before that extra-time, Naomh Conaill headed for the dressingroom as Gaoth Dobhair opted to stay out on the field. Some youngster from both parishes kept the atmosphere ticking over among the crowd of 3,800.
Gaoth Dobhair were awarded a penalty just after the resumption when Marty Boyle picked off the ground following a brave block to deny Kevin Cassidy.
MacNiallais put McGrath the wrong way from the spot, but it sailed over the crossbar on 62 minutes. However, not to be undone, from the next play the mercurial forward scored a peach to put Gaoth Dobhair 0-11 to 1-7 in front.
Gaoth Dobhair’s experience of extra-time in their dramatic win over Bundoran in the last eight stood to them and James Ó Baoill got in on goal and punched over.
But Naomh Conaill, again, showed their resolve to score twice before the first period of extra-time was over, through Molloy and then a McGettigan free. Daire Ó Baoill had registered for Gaoth Dobhair in-between.
At half-time in extra-time it was Gaoth Dobhair in front, 0-13 to 1-8.
Again, Naomh Conaill wouldn’t lie down and within four minutes of the restart were back on terms, with a fantastic Ciaran Thompson effort followed by a score from Eunan Doherty.
Naomh Conaill were now the driving force and five minutes from time, Ethan O’Donnell punched over from distance as Neil McGee had punched away a dropping ball. It looked as though it was going to be Naomh Conaill’s day, only for Ferry to tie it up in dramatic fashion.
Gaoth Dobhair:Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Seaghan Ferry (0-1); Niall Friel, Dan McBride, James Ó Baoill (0-1); Michael Carroll (0-1), Eamon McGee (0-1); Daire Ó Baoill (0-1), Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-6, 2f, 0-1 pen), Naoise Ó Baoill; Cian Mulligan (0-2), Kevin Cassidy, Gavin McBride. Subs: Eamonn Collum (0-1, 1f) for G McBride (23), Peter McGee for D McBride (45), Ethan Harkin for Collum (60), G McBride and D Mc Bride for Harkin and P McGee (extra-time)
Naomh Conaill:Stephen McGrath; Ultan Doherty, AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan; Ethan O’Donnell (0-1), Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson (0-3, 1f), Leo McLoone; Brendan McDyer, Eoghan McGettigan (0-2, 2f), Eunan Doherty (0-2); Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí (0-1), Charles McGuinness (1-0, pen), Kieran Gallagher. Subs: Marty Boyle for Gallagher (40), Dermot Molloy (0-2) for Waide (45), Nathan Byrne for Gallagher (46, black card), Dara Gallagher for McGuinness (53), Gallagher for McDyer (extra-time), McDyer for Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí (half-time, extra-time), John O’Malley for D Gallagher (78), Aaron Thompson for U Doherty (80)
Referee:Jimmy White (Killybegs)