THE most famous season in Naomh Conaill’s history remains their first ever RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC in 2005.
A 0-10 to 1-5 replay win put the Glenties side on the map. Their victims in that final were a well backed St Eunan’s team.
Since then, the two clubs – along with Gaoth Dobhair in 2006 and Glenswilly in 2011 and 2013 – have formed the bloodline of the championship.
And although Naomh Conaill won the 2010 crown, they’ve been knocked out of the championship four times by the Letterkenny side in the last decade – 2007, 2009 and 2012 in the final itself and then in 2013.
In Group 2 of this year’s competition with wins over Dungloe and Ardara thus far, whatever happens this evening (throw-in 6pm), both will still have a chance next weekend in the final series of fixtures.
“They’ve been pivotal games down the years,” Naomh Conaill Martin Regan said.
This year, in the All-County Football League Division 1, there’s been two entertaining games. Naomh Conaill won the most recent of them 3-17 to 5-5 at Davy Brennan Memorial Park in July, four weeks after losing 1-14 to 2-9 at O’Donnell Park. Things might not be so open this evening.
“They were two good games but I wouldn’t read too much into them,” Regan added. “They were both starred fixtures with no county players and both were understrength. But both clubs have good panels.”
Naomh Conaill will welcome Eunans Doherty back this evening having moonlighted with Donegal Boston for the summer, while Marty Boyle, goalkeeper Stephen McGrath and Daragh Gallagher are back having missed out on last Saturday’s poor showing in their 1-8 to 0-8 loss in Dungloe.
On the flipside, Ciaran Brennan is still in the States, Jason Campbell is out with a hamstring injury and it’s hoped that Brendan McDyer (hip) and Eoin Waide (hamstring) will be fit to play a part.
“Last weekend was a poor performance from us at Dungloe but I suppose it’s better last week than this,” Regan added. “Dungloe were up for it, showed more hunger and maybe the result might shake us up.
“I don’t think winning today will confirm either team as group winners but it’s fair to say the losers will probably not have that chance. Either way, we have a huge game at Ardara next week.”
St Eunan’s have continued to potter away in the All-County League in recent weeks and were last in action at Four Masters, where they drew 11-11 to 3-5 just over two weeks ago.
“We’ve had a good run of matches ,” manager Maxi Curran said. “We decided to bring forward some games and caught up on our backlog matches so we had a busy July. But we’re happy enough with the approach that we took.
“Playing those matches kept us going and we also then had last weekend off so we could put in some preparation for the championship.”
In the All-County League, St Eunan’s have only four fixtures to play and opened their championship with a 2-11 to 0-7 win at Ardara.
Maxi Curran will have to plan without Rory Kavanagh for the time being. The former Donegal midfielder is with Donegal Boston, while Conor O’Donnell and Coalan Ward have the All-Americans to look forward to with Philadelphia.
The only real doubt is Rory Carr, who suffered a knee injury in Monday’s 1-10 to 0-11 loss in the Northern Minor Board Championship final against Gaoth Dobhair for a St Eunan’s side who this year are aiming to win a sixth senior title since 2007. But for now, the focus is only on this evening and Naomh Conaill.
“There’s a good rivalry between St Eunan’s and Naomh Conaill,” Curran added. ” This evening will be a real ding-dong, a good championship game hopefully with both teams giving it their all.”Tags: