It was another Jekyll and Hyde performance from Naomh Conaill as they overcame Malin with three points to spare in Davy Brennan Memorial Park.
Naomh Conaill 0-10
For the second week in-a-row Paddy Campbell’s charges produced their champagne football in the opening 30 minutes and were clinging on at the finish. Ironically, too, for the second game in a row they played their best football into a stiff breeze. The win, however, is likely to be good enough to get the Glenties men into the quarter-final draw.
This time around with a super charged Johnny McLoone roving far and wide the men in blue and white rattled over seven points in the opening 30 minutes. John O’Malley, who seems to have rediscovered all his old flair, posted three of the points, while Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and Darragh Gallagher (frees), Anthony and Leon Thompson also hit the target.
In response shot shy Malin, who sorely missed the presence of their scorer-in-chief for many seasons Anthony Kelly, could only muster two points.
Stephen McLaughlin after a jinking run popped of their first on nine minutes and the black and amber supporters had to wait another 16 minutes before wing back Patrick McColgan knocked over their second five minutes from the interval.
Two points was a poor return for the Inishowen men who had enjoyed their fair of possession. But an over insistence in playing the diagonal ball rather than taking on the shot was to prove their Achilles Heel.
And when they did take on the shot they were wayward in their shooting as is evidenced in their six first half wides and at least four strikes on the posts ended up in the arms of Naomh Conaill ‘keeper Stephen McGrath.
Terence Colhoun’s men were a tad unlucky too when Terence Doherty was denied by the crossbar with McGrath beaten as he raced in from the left wing. That was in the middle of the half and at a stage that the locals led 0-4 to 0-1.
Naomh Conaill were far more economical with just three first half wides in their debit account, the first of which was hit eight minutes from half-time by which stage they had six points on the board.
With Naomh Conaill five points to the good and given Malin’s first half frailties in front of the posts, the second half looked a forgone conclusion.
Not so! With the first half breeze having died, Malin powered into the game in the third quarter. And with Patrick McColgan and Damien Harkin driving forward from the back and Declan Walsh and Michael Byrne stepping up at midfield, the visitors reeled off three points without reply to make it a two point game, 0-7 to 0-5, with 45 minutes on the clock.
It took an inspirational run from Anthony Thompson from deep to re-ignite the Naomh Conaill challenge.
Thompson ran a good 60 metres before releasing to the overlapping Jason Campbell who was fouled and Darragh Gallagher converted from 35 metres for Naomh Conaill’s first point of the second period on 48 minutes.
Gallagher eased the margin back out to four points one minute later when Thompson was fouled 40 metres from the Malin goals.
But despite the concession of two quick fire points Malin were still full of running. John Gerard McLaughlin with a brilliant strike reduced the margin to three again on 53 minutes.
And as the clock ticked towards 60 minutes O’Malley and Matthew Byrne traded late points as Malin continued to press in injury time albeit in vain against a well marshalled Naomh Conaill rearguard.
Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; C Ellis, J Campbell, J Bonner; S Molloy, C Brennan, M Boyle; L McLoone, A Thompson (0-1); B McDyer, D Gallagher (0-2,2f), J O’Malley (0-4); D ‘Brick’ Molloy (0-2,2f), L Thompson (0-1), J McLoone. Subs: Aaron Thompson for J Bonner (48); E O’Donnell for D Gallagher (53); E Doherty for B McDyer (57); C Thompson for E Doherty (Black card 59).
Malin: D Lafferty; G Farren, D Harkin, C Farren; P McColgan (0-1), C Byrne, P McLaughlin; J G McLaughlin (0-1), Michael Byrne; A Byrne, D Walsh, B McLaughlin; T Doherty (0-1), M Byrne (0-3,), S McLaughlin (0-1). Subs: C McColgan for C Farren(h/t); S Doherty for P McColgan (black card 59).
Referee: M Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).