NAOMH Conaill cruised to a facile win over Killybegs to clinch the Division 1 title in the Glenties sunshine.
Naomh Conaill 5-19 Killybegs 0-5
By Chris McNulty at Davy Brennan Memorial Park
Martin Regan’s men had 29 points to spare with Ciaran Brennan, Charles McGuinness, Eoghan McGettigan, Kieran Gallagher and Leo McLoone (pictured) scoring the goals.
A seventh win from seven outings means Naomh Conaill can’t be caught, but they’ll have to wait another week to get their hands on the silverware.
Just as Sean McDaid had the whistle to his lips to call the water break in the first half Naomh Conaill struck their first major.
Dermot Molloy and Eoin Waide combined with the spade work and Ciaran Brennan broke in to bat home, his goal putting Naomh Conaill 1-5 to 0-1 to the good.
In the 29th minute, Naomh Conaill opened a 12-point lead. McGuinness had work to do when he fetched from Leo McLoone’s ball in. From the moment the ball touched his hands, there was just one thing on his mind. McGuinness emphatically drove past Corey Byrne.
Leading 2-9 to 0-2 at half-time, Naomh Conaill’s muscle was evidenced with the introduction of Ciaran Thompson, Kieran Gallagher and Eoghan McGettigan at the interval.
There were only 32 seconds on the stopwatch after the break when, after Thompson’s ball into the mix ends up in Gallagher’s paws. He found the bottom corner to twist the knife.
Twelve minutes from the end, McLoone profited on the edge of the square Naomh Conaill’s fifth goal.
The 2020 senior football championship final, between Naomh Conaill and Kilcar, has yet to be played, but was this week slotted into the calendar for the last weekend in August. They’ll go into that game in the peculiar scenario of having already secured this year’s League title and this year’s championship just around the corner
They were in utter control here from start to finish, with 14 players on the scoresheet by the end.
Naomh Conaill have been one of Donegal’s most consistent championship challengers since their big breakthrough in 2005, but League success has been scant.
This represents only the third time that Naomh Conaill have won the Democrat Cup – and the first time since 2011. Ten years ago, Martin Doherty, Stephen McKelvey and Michael Gallagher took the reigns following the departure of Cathal Corey and delivered the Division 1 prize.
Naomh Conaill signalled their intent from the get-go, Ethan O’Donnell – back from county duty with Donegal – scurried through to invite a shot from Ultan Doherty. His attempt was beaten away by ‘keeper Corey Byrne, although Molloy clipped over the opening point seconds later.
With six wins from six, Naomh Conaill were strong favourites to continue their perfect start to 2021. With Molloy, McLoone and Charles McGuinness registering, the home side were 0-4 to no score in front after only 10 minutes.
John Cunningham, the Killybegs manager, arrived in Glenties with bodies light; the former Donegal player reckoning his injury count had entered double figures.
Naomh Conaill might’ve had more, Byrne turning over from McGettigan when he had sight of the bullseye again.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Jason Campbell (0-1), AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan (0-1); Odhran Doherty, Ultan Doherty, Ethan O’Donnell (0-1); Leo McLoone (1-1), Ciaran Brennan (1-0); Eoin Waide (0-2), Seamus Corcoran (0-1), Eunan Doherty (0-3); Keelan McGill (0-1), Charles McGuinness (1-1), Dermot Mollloy (0-2). Subs: Eoghan McGettigan (1-3), Kieran Gallagher (1-0) and Ciaran Thompson (0-2, 1f, 1 ’45) for Brennan, Corcoran and Molloy (half-time), Nathan Byrne for McGuinness (40), Marty Boyle for Waide (46).
Killybegs: Corey Byrne; Darragh McClean, Cillian Gildea, Owen Gallagher; Michael Callaghan, Jon Ban Gallagher, Ryan Carr; Hugh McFadden (0-1 ’45), Christopher Cunningham; Ryan Cunningham (0-1f), Jack McSharry (0-1), Rory Colyer; Odhran McGuinness (0-1), Conor Cunningham (0-1), Christopher Mulligan. Sub: Charlie Breslin for McGuinness (46).
Referee: Sean McDaid (Urris)Tags: