A STIRRING NAOMH CONAILL comeback fell just short of forcing extra time as the Donegal champions bowed out of the Ulster Championship.
Naomh Conaill 1-11 Trillick 2-09
Tyrone champions Trillick emerged by the skins of their teeth thanks to goals in the first half by Niall Gormley and Daire Gallagher.
The goals book-ended the opening period, Gormely netting in the third minute and Gallagher firing home in added time.
Naomh Conaill, who played for almost 50 minutes with 14 men after Anthony Thompson was sent off, were brought right back into it when Ciaran Thompson goaled early in the second half.
Five second half points by half-time substitute Daragh Gallagher helped haul Martin Regan’s side into contention, but Gallagher saw a late free trail to the left and wide with a final chance to force extra time.
It was a cruel way for Naomh Conaill – provincial finalists in 2010 – to lose out and, while there was plenty to admire about the way they were in with a chance until the bitter end, the game had slipped away from them in the first half-an-hour.
At a numerical disadvantage – and without a player of Anthony Thompson’s refinement – Naomh Conaill just ran out of luck.
They were reduced to 14 men in the 13th minute when the Donegal player was shown a straight red card by referee Noel Mooney after appearing to lead with his head on Trillick’s Prionsias O’Kane.
Just two minutes later, injury ended Dermot Molloy’s participation.
Bearing in mind that Daragh Gallagher wasn’t included in a starting line-up that was already down the suspended Eoghan McGettigan – it meant that the Glenties representation were very much up against it.
Their cause wasn’t helped by the concession of an early goal that had more than a tad of good fortune about it.
Lee Brennan’s free bounced off the upright, but fell into the path of the waiting Gormley, who fired low past goalkeeper Stephen McGrath.
Frees from Brendan McDyer and John O’Malley reduced the arrears, but Trillick took a big step towards the win with a deadly finish to the first half.
Captain Mattie Donnelly bagged their first score in over ten minutes before Brennan wonderfully turned away from Kevin McGettigan to land a magnificent curling effort with his left boot.
In added time at the end of the first period, Trillick struck their second goal. Full-back Ruairi Kelly was involved in a brilliant move that concluded with him feeding Gallagher, who slotted home.
Trillick led 2-4 to 0-4 at the changeover, but with Daragh Gallagher sprung from the bench to liven their attack, Naomh Conaill made a real fist of things.
Gallagher and Johnny McLoone, who was introduced to the fray in the first half, had scores cancelled out by a pair of Brennan points, but NaomhConaill roared back when Ciaran Thompson hit the net.
The midfielder powered through and momentum took him into position, where he fired superbly to the Trillick net.
McDyer and Gallagher took Naomh Conaill to within a point and they actually drew level with 12 minutes remaining.
Gormley, from way out on the right, had steadied the Trillick wobbles, only for two Gallagher frees to level things up.
It was the first time the teams were on an even keel.
Brennan, from a free, restored the lead for the Tyrone team, and Richard Donnelly boomed over to make it a two-point game.
Gallagher set up a grandstand finish with his fifth of the game but, after Leon Thompson was fouled by Stephen O’Donnell, Gallagher was just off target and Naomh Conaill’s Ulster hopes faded with his kick.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Aaron Thompson, AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan; Marty Boyle, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson (1-0), Leo McLoone; Ethan O’Donnell, Dermot Molloy (0-1, 1f), Eunan Doherty; John O’Malley (0-1, 1f), Leon Thompson (0-1), Brendan McDyer (0-2). Subs: Cathal Ellis for Molloy (15), Johnny McLoone (0-1) for O’Donnell (20), Daragh Gallagher (0-5, 4f) for AJ Gallagher (half-time), Seamus Corcoran for O’Malley (53), Ethan O’Donnell for McDyer (53), Brendan McDyer for Doherty (59).
Trillick: Joe Maguire; Stephen O’Donnell, Ruairi Kelly, Damian Kelly; Niall Donnelly, Rory Brennan, Daniel McDonnell; Richard Donnelly (0-2), Eoin Gormley; Sean Kelly, Matthew Donnelly (0-1), Proinsias O’Kane; Niall Gormley (1-2), Lee Brennan (0-4, 2f), Daire Gallagher (1-0). Subs: Shane Gormley for E. Gormley (45), Fergal Donnelly for McDonnell (49).
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).Tags: