Kilcar lifted their second U-21 championship in three years with a deserved victory over Naomh Conaill in Eamonn Byrne Memorial Park, Fintra.
Naomh Conaill 1-8
17-year-old Andrew McClean was inspirational for the winners, who had to play almost the entire second half with 14 men after Conal Gilmore was red carded. Gilmore was dispossessed by a number of Naomh Conail players around midfield and reacted when a free was given for overcarrying. Martin Coll consulted with his linesman Ryan Walsh before sending him off.
But despite being reduced in number, Kilcar kept the Glenties men at bay, thanks to the tireless work of McClean and Ryan McHugh and the scoring ability of Patrick McBrearty, who hit four second half points, mostly when needed.
It was a fourth championship for the Kilcar management of John McNulty, Aidan Gallagher and Malachy Haughey. They have guided the Kilcar men to two county minor championships and now two U-21 titles - a pretty good record.
Young McClean, who was used as an extra defender, didn’t put a foot wrong and his bravery and composure on the ball set the mark for the winners.
“It was a good day for us. We had to work hard for it but it was worth it,” said McClean afterwards.
On a cold day, the rain stayed away from Fintra and the it was pretty calm also for the venue.
Naomh Conaill started the brightest and were worthy of their two point lead inside five minutes, John O’Malley after 50 seconds and Ciaran Thompson with a cracker from near the sideline.
Cormac Cannon got Kilcar on the scoreboard after eitht minutes with a typical forward run and by the 11th minute Kilcar were in command. Eoin McHugh added a second point; Patrick McBrearty hung another before Ryan McHugh and Aodhan McGinley combined to put Ryan McGinley through for the first goal.
From there to half-time there was little between the sides with Ciaran Thompson (free) and Mark Gallagher for Naomh Conaill while McBrearty hit a free and a ‘45’ at the other end.
Just before the break Naomh Conaill had a half goal chance when a John O’Malley free dropped short and Ciaran Thompson connected with a fist but the ball was saved on the line.
Patrick McBrearty had the opening point of the second half before Kilcar were reduced to 14 with the dismissal of Gilmore.
Two points from Ciaran Thompson cut the margin to three but Ryan McHugh, with a g reat free, found Patrick McBrearty to power through and fist over.
Seamus Ellis was almost in but his effort went just over after good work by O’Malley and Thompson, but again McBrearty replied for Kilcar. Aodhan McGinley, despite carrying an injury, almost got in for a goal, denied by the Naomh Conaill ‘keeper while John O’Malley landed a ‘45’ at the other end with eight minutes left.
Naomh Conaill began to exert pressure and Donnacha O’Callaghan was denied by a great save by Christopher Cunningham at the expense of a ‘45’ and Ciaran Brennan almost got in for a goal.
McBrearty put four between them with three minutes left but there was an exciting finish when Ciaran Brennan found O’Malley a minute into added time and he fired home from an acute angle to leave just a point in it.
Kilcar weathered the storm and Eoin McHugh got forward to hit the insurance point while Naomh Conaill were reduced to 14 when Eunan Doherty saw yellow for a second time just before the final whistle.
Apart from McClean, Patrick McBrearty and Ryan McHugh, the full-back line, Cormac Cannon (in firstw half) and Aodhan McGinley played their part.
For Naomh Conaill, O’MalleymThompson, Ciaran Brennan and the Gallaghers were best
Kilcar: Kevin Boyle; Christopher Cunningham, Pauric Carr, James Shovlin; Cormac Cannon (0-1), Ryan McHugh, Dermot McGinley; Aodhan McGinley, Conal Gilmore; Eoin McHugh (0-2), Patrick McBrearty (0-7,f,45), Darragh O ‘Donnell; Ryan McGinley (1-0), David Gillespie, Andrew McClean.
Naomh Conaill: Ronan O’Donnell; Seamus Doherty, Jason Campbell, Hugh Gallagher; Kevin McGettigan, Ciaran Brennan, Seamus Ellis (0-1); Jamie Gallagher, Donnacha O’Callaghan; Mark Gallagher (0-1), Eunan Doherty, Charles McGuinness; Ciaran Thompson (0-4,2f), John O’Malley (1-2,’45’), Michael Doherty.
Referee: Martin Coll Gaoth Dobhair)