Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill lock horns once again this Sunday in the Donegal Senior Reserve Championship final in Sean MacCumhaill Park.
The game, a replay, is the curtain-raiser to the senior final and throws-in at 1.45 pm. The sides ended level two weeks ago, in O’Donnell Park, after Gaoth Dobhair came from four points down with time up to snatch a draw. Michael McKelvey converted from the penalty spot after Cian Mulligan was fouled in the Naomh Conaill penalty area. And then he followed up with a pointed free to tie up the game with literally the last kick of the game.
Naomh Conaill with James Doherty, Joe Kennedy and Conal ‘Ban’ McNelis in fine form had been the better outfit for up to three quarters of the tie. They led by eight points at half-time and were in front by ten by the end of the third quarter.
“We never got going at all in the first half the last day and it was only in the last 15 minutes that we started to play the football we are capable of playing,” said Steve O’Dea, the Gaoth Dobhair manager.
“We are certainly going to have to get off to a better start on Sunday and that is the plan and that is something we have been impressing on the players and I’m confident we will.”
Gaoth Dobhair have been boosted by the return of former star forward Stephen Cassidy. Cassidy, who has not played in a number of years, returned to training the week after the drawn game and is reported to be going well.
“It is good to have Stephen back and hopefully he will give us a little more firepower up front and a target man in the full-forward line. This is something that we were probably lacking in the drawn game.”
Gaoth Dobhair have no injury worries and other than the inclusion of Cassidy from the start, O’Dea and his assistant Eugene Hamer are not expected to make many other alterations to the starting 15 from that which began the drawn game.
Veteran Colman McCool, who made a huge impact on his introduction two weeks ago, is once again expected to be held in reserve.
Martin Gallagher (ankle) is Naomh Conaill manager Leo McLoone’s only injury concern. Gallagher suffered the injury before the half-time in the drawn game.
“He is recovering well and we hope to have Martin. He is responding well to treatment and I think there is a good chance he will play,” insisted the Naomh Conaill boss, who reported no other injuries.
“We let it slip the last day. But that is football and it is a matter of bouncing back and making sure that we finish off the job this time around. It may be a different game altogether but we are looking forward to it and with a little luck we will be celebrating at the final whistle.”
Gaoth Dobhair had no game last weekend after Killybegs failed to show in Magheragallon while Naomh Conaill had a comfortable 0-16 to 1-3 victory over neighbours Ardara.