A new-look Naomh Colmcille is beginning to build a little momentum again as Ryan McKinley’s men won for the fourth game in a row in Division 4.
Naomh Colmcille 1-14 Letterkenny Gaels 1-8
It had been a quick turnaround for Naomh Colmcille, Ulster Junior champions in 2017 and All-Ireland semi-finalists in January, but they’ve begun well in their quest to get out of Division 4.
Ryan McErlean and Willie Gillespie kicked the points between them and, alongside John Fullerton’s palmed goal in the 24th minute, they were pretty comfortable for much of the contest.
McKinley is down key players from their historic conquering of Ulster in the shape of Daniel Clarke, Michael Lynch, Matthew Crossan, Ricky Hegarty, Ciaran Devine and Gerard Curran.
Clarke and Lynch, their midfield partnership from 2017, won’t be available for them again until 2019; though they can, at least, be encouraged by the displays of those who have come into the fold.
Naomh Colmcille had seven points to spare at the break and they led by ten with 11 minutes to go.
Ciaran Cannon’s goal helped give Letterkenny Gaels a flicker of hope but Naomh Colmcille recovered from Michael Friel’s sending off, for a second yellow card in the 37th minute, to win with a bit to spare.
Gaels had to withdraw ace forward Conor McBrearty injured in the 15th minute and, with McErlean and Gillespie on song, the hosts led 0-7 to 0-2 soon after.
McErlean was on fire with one stupendous point from way out on the right the highlight of his showreel.
Gillespie was nerveless from his frees and Naomh Colmcille’s goal arrived six minutes before the break and, from Gillespie’s ball in, Fullerton (pictured) steered past James Carr.
They might have had a second goal early in the second half, but Carr denied Hugh O’Donnell after he got on the end of a move involving PJ McBrearty and Joe Donaghey.
Gillespie, too, had the net in his crosshairs, but he shot over from close range, while McErlean’s blistering effort was beaten away by Carr as Naomh Colmcille sought a way of killing the contest.
Two Gillespie frees had Naomh Colmcille 1-13 to 0-6 in front and it was always a mountain for the Gaels to climb.
In the dying moments, Cannon tucked home in a crowded goalmouth after John Roulstone saved from Paddy Doherty.
Gaels had chances late on, but it wasn’t enough to rattle Naomh Colmcille.
Naomh Colmcille: John Roulstone; Jason Fitzpatrick, Alex Devenney, Paul Friel; Hugh O’Donnell, Michael Friel, Kevin Gallagher; Eddie Gillespie, John Fullerton (1-0); Joe Donaghey, Oran Hilley, Don Hegarty; PJ McBrearty, Willie Gillespie (0-8, 6f), Ryan McErlean (0-6). Subs: Stephen Gallagher for E.Gillespie (49), Mark Friel for Hegarty (51), Ben Scott for O’Donnell (57), Don Hegarty for Scott (black card, 62)
Letterkenny Gaels: James Carr; John Doran, Kevin Kilkenny, Aaron Stewart; Shaun Crossan, Darren Hunter, Ciaran Lynch; Ciaran Cannon (1-0), Conor Browne; Nicky McGarrigle (0-1f), Sean McDonagh, Anthony Diver; Shay Doherty (0-4, 3f), Conor McBrearty (0-1f), Paddy Doherty. Subs: Charlie Creevy (0-2f) for McBrearty (15), Conor Cullen for Crossan (44), Joe Friel for Stewart (44), James McGlynn for Diver (60).
Referee: Mark McGlinchey (Sean MacCumhaills).Tags: