Naomh Conaill are looking forward to yet another U-21A championship final following Saturday’s semi-final victory over Sean MacCumhaill’s.
Naomh Conaill 2-14
They now face either Kilcar or Four Masters - who meet in the other semi-final next weekend - in what will be their eighth U-21A championship final in-a-row. Having won six of those seven final day appearances, Martin Doherty and his new look side have their sights firmly set on silverware once again.
In a hard fought and competitive encounter played in Glenfin’s Pairc Na Taobhoige, the men in blue and white displayed once again that they have the know how to win championship games when the going gets tough.
John O’Malley with 1-6 - the goal from the penalty spot in the first half - and Ciaran Thompson 1-4, carried the main scoring threat for the winners, who strangely enough, had only two other scorers, wing forward Mark Gallagher and midfielder Donnagh Callaghan.
Both goals were big scores. The first, scored six minutes before half-time, sent Doherty’s men in with a two point cushion 1-7 to 1-5 at half-time.
They had trailed by two, 1-3 to 0-4, before the penalty after Noel Quinn showed a predator’s instinct at the other end, 12 minutes into the game to propel the Finnsiders to the front, 1-2 to 0-4.
Naomh Conaill had shaded the early exchanges, but only just, with Marty O’Reilly and John O’Malley and O’Malley and Rory Dunleavy trading early points, before O’Malley and Thompson edged their side two in front.
Quinn’s goal was followed by a neat chip and point from Stephen Mulligan to make it a two point game in favour of MacCumhaill’s. But points from Ciaran Brennan, O’Malley (2) had tied up the game before O’Malley made no mistake from the spot.
Mulligan, who brought down the curtain on the first half scoring, opened the second a peach of a point from close range. And when Gavin Gallagher split the posts shortly after the sides were level 1-7 each.
But with the game on a knife edge Naomh Conaill found another gear and in the space of eight minutes they had moved three clear for the fist time. O’Malley, Brennan and Thompson did the scoring.
And while Martin O’Reilly temporarly halted their march a Donnagh Callaghan point followed by a Thompson goal sealed it. Thompson scored when he got on the end of a sweeping move involving Jamie Gallagher and O’Malley to give Eoghan Gallen no chance from five metres, and another U-21A final for Naomh Conaill.
Naomh Conaill: Ronan O’Donnell: James Doherty, Jason Campbell, Hughie Gallagher; Kevin McGettigan, Ciaran Brennan (0-2), Seamus Ellis; Jamie Gallagher, Donnagh Callaghan (0-1); Mark Gallagher (0-1), Eunan Doherty, Charlie McGuinness; Ciaran Thompson (1-4, 3f), John O’Malley (1-6, 1-0 pen, 2f), Micheal Doherty. Subs: Ciaran Quinn for C Thompson (58); Owen Boyle for M Doherty (61).
Sean MacCumhaills: Eoghan Gallen; Paul McMenamin, Eoghan Wright, Karl Hughes; Martin Gallagher, Andrew McCloskey, James Byrne; Ryan Duffy, Gavin ‘Fireman’ Gallagher (0-1); Rory Dunleavy (0-1). Stephen Mulligan ((0-4,1f), Martin O’Reilly (0-2, 2f); Mark Dorrian, Noel Quinn (1-0), Oisin Merritt. Subs: Cormac Muldoon for J Byrne (44); Chris McCafferty for O Merrit (48); Conor Griffin for” M Dorrian (56).
Referee: H Wallace (Burt)