THERE WILL BE plenty of buses parked in Glenties at the weekend but that’s not to say Naomh Conaill are going on the defensive when they take on Termon on Saturday, throw-in 7:30pm.
With the Harvest Fair on and the town expected to come to a standstill, Martin Regan will take his team to MacCumhaill Park in a rich vein of form ahead of the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC quarter-final.
Naomh Conaill breezed through Group 2 with maximum points following a 2-14 to 1-8 victory over Dungloe, a resounding 2-12 to 0-8 win over St Eunan’s and then a dead rubber 2-13 to 1-9 success at Ardara. Last Sunday in the Brian McCormick Sports All-County Football League Division One, Naomh Conaill moved into second place with a 1-13 to 1-12 defeat of Kilcar in Towney.
“The town will be busy with the Harvest Fair but we’ll make Ballybofey,” said manager Regan.
“Our form is good enough recently but I wouldn’t read too much into it as it was a typical league game last weekend in Kilcar.”
Leon Thompson’s red card in the aforementioned fixture in Ardara has since been rescinded but the former Donegal forward remains a doubt with quad muscle bother, as does Eoin Waide with a hamstring injury. Johnny Bonner had a similar complaint to Waide but featured last week against Kilcar and is expected to anchor the defence on Saturday.
However, Jason Campbell is out with a hamstring complaint and Brendan McDyer’s knee ligament injury means he won’t play.
Aside that though, Naomh Conaill still have a strong hand with the likes of Dermot Molloy having time out from the inter-county scene this year and Anthony Thompson moved home from London.
“There’s no easy games in the quarter-finals of the championship,”Regan said. “Termon did well to qualify and we’re not going to take anyone lightly. Maybe the win against St Eunan’s put us in a different light in some people’s eyes – but not ours.
“We know on our day that we can beat any team but also on any day any team can cause us trouble. We aren’t really the sort of team who can get through games playing at 60 or 70 per cent so we want to put in a performance on Saturday.”
Naomh Conaill are this week celebrating a place in the County Minor final, which will take place on Saturday week, following a 1-11 to 2-6 replayed win over Gaoth Dobhair. Only Ethan O’Donnell from that panel is also involved with the seniors.
Termon caught the last bus to the quarter-finals having pipped Naomh Muire not on points or even points difference, but by points scored over the course of their three Group 4 fixtures.
Paddy McDaid’s side were beaten 3-12 to 1-8 in Kilcar on matchday three, having drawn 1-12 to 0-15 at the Banks against Naomh Muire following a 1-11 to 0-12 win over Killybegs first time out.
Noel O’Donnell will continue in goal with Michael Boyle still in Boston, while Aidan Sweeney has yet to return from New York. Coalan McDaid and Ciaran McDaid remain long-term absentees and Anthony McGrenra is again to miss out with an ankle injury.
Termon are blooding a young panel with the likes of Daire McDaid (pictured above), Ricky Gallagher and Fintan O’Flynn playing important roles.
Twelve months ago, Termon ousted Gaoth Dobhair in the group stages but then collapsed in the last eight, losing 3-9 to 0-4 against Glenswilly. Manager McDaid is eager for history not to repeat itself.
“It’s something that we spoke about during the week,” he said. “That game was over after 20 minutes so on Saturday we want to be competitive as long as possible.
“Once we finished as runners-up in the group we knew it was going to be tough no matter who we got – Glenswilly, Naomh Conaill or St Michael’s. Those three, with Kilcar and St Eunan’s, are ahead of the field and it’s up to the rest of us to try and bridge that gap.”
Termon are the one side in recent years, with a yo-yo existence between Divisions One and Two, who know both divisions inside out. At the minute they’re two points clear of Bundoran at the top of Division Two with four matches to play.
“Our aim this year was to get back into Division One as it’s the best place to learn your trade,” McDaid added. “Like the last day in Kilcar, we didn’t feel we played too badly but they turned the screw and won by 10 points. That’s the difference.
“Naomh Conaill are a side with footballers all over the pitch and they are a physical team as well. We’ve a mountain to climb but at the same time, we wanted to make the last eight and we’re here now so we’ll give it our best shot.”Tags: