WINNING back-to-back titles is something they’ve spoken of in Glenties for some time now.
Via a historic penalty shoot-out – the first time the Donegal SFC was decided in the nerve-jangling manner – Naomh Conaill won the delayed 2020 final to retain Dr Maguire.
“It’s unbelievable,” manager Martin Regan said.
“We said it after 2019 that something we never did was back-to-back.
“We talked a lot about winning the Championship in 2005 and going out to St Michael’s the next year; about winning in 2010 and losing to Glenswilly in the first round; about winning the Championship in 2015 and losing to Kilcar in the semi-final.
“They were all horrible defeats and we talked about that.”
Goalkeeper Stephen McGrath saved penalties from Ryan McHugh and Mark McHugh and Naomh Conaill captain Ciarán Thompson, the Man of the Match, blasted in the winning penalty.
Regan felt that a replay would have been a better course after a gripping game of cat and mouse.
He said: “There was nothing between the two teams. There was nothing in it at all.
“Penalties is no way to a decide a game. Absolutely no way. We waited for eight months and it shouldn’t have been decided on one night. I do feel for Kilcar.”
Thompson and Kevin McGettigan netted for Naomh Conaill in a game that ended 2-7 to 0-13 after extra time. Patrick McBrearty helped to keep Kilcar’s flame burning and Naomh Conaill couldn’t put them away until the lottery from the spot.
Regan said: “We went to sleep after the goals.
“The goals didn’t come at times where we were struggling. It was a 50-50 game but we went to sleep or Kilcar really reacted better to the goals. The goal in the first half put us in a great position, we got the next two attacks and didn’t convert them.
“We had a chance to go four or five up and didn’t take it. When we got the second goal, it should have been lights out. We should have seen the game out. It is something that we’ll have to look at going forward.
“We held possession very well, but we missed a lot of simple chances. There were a lot of chances there and a it of scores left behind – on both sides.”
In their centenary year, Naomh Conaill will now get a swift chance of a three-in-a-row with the 2021 Championship to begin in just four weeks’ time.