A magnificent display by Glenswilly to dethrone the county champions was marred by disgraceful scenes after the final whistle with players, mentors and supporters involved in a free-for-all.
Naomh Conaill 2-6
News that Leo McLoone sustained a serious eye injury is a sickening reminder that violence and defeat in club championship encounters still go hand in hand and must be eradicated from the system. The ending overshadowed what was a very good encounter with Glenswilly on top from the very start with Ciaran Bonner pointing inside ten seconds.
The visitors’ ploy of playing Neil Gallagher alongside Michael Murphy completely unnerved the county champions and it was close to halftime before they sent for Johnny Bonner to put up the shutters, but by then it too late.
Glenswilly made hay in the opening half and were 1-5 to 0-1 ahead by the 20th minute with Murphy benefitting from the assistance of big Neil. Ciaran Bonner had the opening two points inside two minutes and Michael Murphy and Gary McFadden had added two more by the 16th minute before Dara Gallagher opened Naomh Conaill’s account.
But Glenswilly took control in a 60 second period when ‘keeper Philip O’Donnell averted danger and found the impressive Brian McDaid who set up Michael Murphy to point on 19 minutes and within a minute Neil Gallagehr found Murphy to round Tommy Donoghue and squeeze home the opening goal. Naomh Conaill responded with Brendan McDyre pointing and Dermot Molloy fielding a Leo McLoone centre to fire home a good goal but Neil Gallagher set up two more points for Murphy whiel Dermot Molloy had a free at the other end to leave the half-time score at Naomh Conaill 1-3, Glenswilly 1-7.
The home side manager Cathal Corey would have been relieved to get his side to the dressing room only four points adrift as it could have been much worse. But they found it hard to make an impression at the start of the second half with Michael Murphy pointing a free while Dara Gallagher replied at the other end.
Darren McGinley fired over a snapshot off the upright while a Michael Murphy free was waved wide although the county captain protested that it was good. Naomh Conaill pulled two points with Dara Gallagher and Dermot Molloy frees to reduce the margin to three with eight minutes left but Murphy stretched the lead to four again with four minutes to go.
Naomh Conaill just couldn’t make any headway against the Glenswilly defence but they were thrown a lifeline two minutes into the three added minutes when Leo McLoone got in to fist to the net, but there wasn’t any time to get the required equaliser. Then came Seamus McGonagle’s final whistle which was followed by outbreaks of fisticuffs all over the field, probably the worst scenes that have been witnessed on a Donegal playing field for a long time.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Jamie Gallagher, Thomas Donoghue, Ciaran Boyle; Marty Boyle, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Martin Regan, Johnny McLoone; Brendan McDyre (0-1), Dara Gallagher (0-3,2f), Dermot Molloy (1-1, f); Leo McLoone (1-0), Seamus Corcoran, Leon Thompson. Subs., Johnny Bonner for L Thompson 27; John O’Malley for Corcoran 42; Conal McNelis for Regan 61.
Glenswilly: Philip O’Donnell; Rory McDaid, Eamonn Ward, Ruairi Crawford; Joe Gibbons, James P McDaid, Brian McDaid; Leon Kelly, Neil Gallagher; Michael Murphy (1-6,2f), Ciaran Bonner (0-2), Caolan Kelly; Darren McGinley (0-1), Gary McFadden (0-1), Martin McGinley. Subs., Gerard McGrenra for D McGinley 43; John McFadden for M McGinley 53.
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh)