NAOMH CONAILL TOOK THE points away to rivals Ardara last night with a commanding enough four-point win in Pearse Park.
Naomh Conaill 3-9 Ardara 0-14
By Frank Craig, Ardara PRO
Without the services of Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson, Brendan McDyre and Eoghan McGettigan from the off, Glenties still had too much over the hour for an Ardara side also minus some influential regulars like Gareth Concarr, Declan Gavigan, Brendan Boyle and Jimmy O’Connell.
Seamus Gallagher’s men opened sprightly enough as Paddy McGrath and Johnny Herron kicked them into an early two-point lead.
However, on 10 minutes the hosts’ defensive frailties were completely laid bare when Seamus Corcoran was allowed to ghost in and onto a Marty Boyle pass before burying to the back of the net.
Naomh Conaill doubled their advantage when Dermot Molloy sauntered in to post. Soon after, Corcoran did likewise with Ardara’s brittleness at the back again evident.
Ardara did manage to reduce arrears back to two when Brendan McNelis sailed over a fine free after Paul Watters had battle well to win the opportunity. Good showing inside from the same player forged the opening for McNelis, off his weaker right, to then arrow over a fourth for Ardara and the gap was cut to one.[adrotate group=”37″]
Nine minutes from the break and the sides were level as Paddy McGrath cut in along the endline to fist over the bar. However, Ardara continued to leak space in their own defensive third and it was punished once again when Charlie McGuinness slapped home at the back post after Leon Thompson had served the opportunity on a plate.
Ardara, again through a McNelis free, kept themselves within two of Naomh Conaill. A booming ’45m free from McNelis – at this stage Ardara’s premier player – then managed to cut the difference back to a single over.
But with Molloy shimmying inside Nicolas Maguire and punting off the laces, Naomh Conaill’s reply was as good as instant. A fine link-up between Watters, Malley and CJ Molloy almost forged a goal in the final seconds of the first period but Molloy’s drive cannoned off Cathal Ellis’ feet and away to safety.[adrotate group=”46″]
Half-time: Naomh Conaill 2-3Ardara 0-7.
The second-half action got under way with Jack Brennan inches away from goaling when he almost latched onto a Simon Breslin square along the line.
Molloy, with the outside of the left peg, hammered over a brilliant point but, it has to be said, he was given far too much room to size up the home posts.
Eight minutes into the second-half and Ardara were off the mark as Watters was sent on his way by Conor Classon. A Charles McGuinness free was the last action he seen as Naomh Conaill called on the heavy artillery of Leo McLoone.
Moments later, another experienced head, Brendan McDyre, also came into the mix. With Aaron Bennett not tuned in for a close range free disaster struck and John O’Malley took full advantage to lob over the advanced Ardara netminder and into the goal.[adrotate group=”67″]
Now six behind on a score of 3-5 to 0-8, and heading into the last quarter, Ardara pulled one back through Kenneth Doherty. Cocoran took his tally to 1-2 for the night as the game approached the 53rd minute.
Substitute Stefan Boyle and Nicolas Breslin both hit the target for Ardara to trim the gap back to four. Ardara, chipping away, had it back to three with as many minutes left on the clock thanks to Jack Brennan.
But Naomh Conaill eased their slight concerns with a timely Molloy point. And with Brendan McDyre taking full advantage of a stray Ardara kickout, Naomh Conaill were soon back to five to the good, with the contest ticking into the red.
McNelis did have the final say for the hosts just prior to the whistle but it was Naomh Conaill that still exited with the bragging rights when Robbie O’Donnell eventually signaled time.
Ardara: Aaron Bennett; Nicolas Maguire, Kenneth Doherty (0-1), Kevin Breslin; Johnny Herron (0-1), Paddy McGrath (0-2), Ryan Malley; Conor Classon, Nicolas Breslin (0-1); Lorcan O’Donnell, CJ Molloy, Jack Brennan (0-1); Paul Watters (0-1), Simon Breslin, Brendan McNelis (0-6, 4f). Subs: Stefan Boyle (0-1) for Breslin (50), Kevin Herron for Herron (55).
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Aaron Thompson, Cathal Ellis, Stephen Molloy; Marty Boyle, Eunan Doherty, Kevin McGettigan; Ethan O’Donnell, Ciaran Thompson; Logan Quinn (0-1), Dermot Molloy (0-4), Seamus Corcoran (1-2); John O’Malley (1-0), Charlie McGuinness (1-1, 1f), Leon Thompson. Subs: Leo McLoone for McGuinness (39), Brendan McDyre (0-1) for L Thompson (46).
Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Muire).