Naomh Conaill completed the semi-final line-up of the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC with a narrow derby win over neighbours Ardara on Wednesdsay night at Ballybofey.
Naomh Conaill 0-9
The Glenties side, again, made life difficult for themselves - as they have on numerous occasions in recent weeks - by trying to sit on the lead in the quarter-final replay.
Eight Naomh Conaill second half wides meant Ardara, who were misfiring themselves, were closer than arm’s length after Marty Shovlin’s last minute goal.
Glenswilly, the county champions, had the luxury of taking the night’s events in from the terraces following their comfortable 2-9 go 0-4 win over Termon on Sunday in Letterkenny. They will now meet Naomh Conaill on Sunday afternoon, in Letterkenny again.
Saturday night’s meeting of St Michael’s and St Eunan’s - under the floodlights at MacCumhaill Park - will be the first of the weekend’s two semi-finals.
At Tír Chonaill Park last Saturday, Naomh Conaill and Ardara couldn’t be separated as the team from Pearse Park, who were five points up nine minutes into the second half with Ryan Melly the goalscorer, had to be content with a 1-9 to 0-12 draw.
Paddy Campbell’s Naomh Conaill team, on Wednesday night, had the wind in the first half and used the elements to lay the foundation stones. Daragh Gallagher popped over three times, Brendan McDyer twice, while Dermot Molloy and Aaron Thompson were also on target.
Ardara’s attacks were sporadic, with CJ Molloy frequently outnumbered by a swarm of blue jerseys when in possession. By half-time, Adrian Brennan’s team were 0-7 to 0-2 down having only scored placed balls from Brendan McNelis and Tomas Boyle.
Leo McLoone, though, was black-carded by referee Jimmy White two minutes before the break for a trip on Kenneth Doherty.
Ardara made a storming start to the second half on Saturday and although there wasn’t the same velocity last night, Melly almost got in behind only for Stephen McGrath, the Naomh Conaill goalkeeper, to be penalised for touching the ball on the ground.
Gareth Concarr popped over. Then, Molloy, with Ardara’s first point from play on 38 minutes and Melly on the turn, brought their team’s deficit back to 0-8 to 0-5.
But Naomh Conaill held firm and Marty Boyle’s late point gave them breathing space, four points up, as there was a splintered flow to the contest.
Shovlin’s goal, smashed under McGrath, when Kevin Harron provided the ammunition led to a tight finish but Naomh Conaill held on. Just.
Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; J Bonner, J Campbell, S Molloy; C Ellis, C Brennan, M Boyle (0-1); L McLoone, Anthony Thompson; B McDyer (0-2), Aaron Thompson (0-1), J O’Malley; D Gallagher (0-3, 2f), L Thompson (0-1), D Molloy (0-1). Subs: J McLoone for L McLoone (28, black card), E O’Donnell for L Thompson (36), E Waide for O’Malley (48), E Doherty for McDyer (53), AJ Gallagher for Boyle (54), C Thompson for O’Donnell (60).
Ardara: D Gallagher; P Gallagher, D Gavigan, S McLaughlin; P McGrath, K Herron, K Breslin; B McNelis (0-1, 1f), K Doherty; T Boyle (0-1, 1f), G Concarr (0-1, 1f), O O’Donnell; R Melly (0-1), CJ Molloy (0-1), K Whyte.
Subs: M Shovlin (1-0) for Boyle (34), S McHugh for P Gallagher (38), S O’Donnell for O’Donnell (48), B Boyle for Whyte (53), C Classon for Gavigan (54, black card), N Breslin for McGrath (59).
Referee: J White (Killybegs).