In the battle of the champions Naomh Conaill emerged with the honours as the Democrat Cup holders cruised to a comfortable victory over the Dr Maguire Cup holders in Davy Brennan Memorial Park.
Naomh Conaill 1-1
The county champions were without their two big hitters Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher while Leon Kelly and Kealan Kelly were also absent and Ciaran Bonner has departed to Tir Chonaill Gaels in London.
But it is not as if the locals were at full strength either. Leo McLoone, Marty Boyle and John O’Malley were also missing from the blue and white line-up, though Boyle did make an appearance in the closing minutes.
Except from an opening flurry from the visitors, who posted three of their points in the opening four minutes, it was all too easy for Naomh Conaill who are unbeaten three games into the new season.
The ageless Johnny McLoone is playing better than ever and he led the charge with a spring in his step and five points to share the top scoring berth with Leon Thompson.
Thompson scored 1-2 and had another goal disallowed for a square ball infringement and is in great form and seems to have rediscovered the spark after a number of injury dogged years.
On Sunday he tormented Glenswilly from very early with no less a marker than Brian ‘Shorty’ McDaid shadowing him and had 1-1 on the board at half-time to give the locals plenty to be happy about as they went in 1-9 to 0-4 in front at the break.
McLoone got his side off the mark on five minutes in response to Glenswilly’s three openers from Aidan McDevitt, Brian Farrell and Caolan McFadden.
Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and Darragh Gallagher (two each) and Seamus Corcorcan added points for a free flowing Naomh Conaill.
The second half was a procession with Anthony Thompson spraying the ball around as if in a practice game and Johnnny McLoone still pulling the strings and leading the way the host continued to put on a show.
Leon Thompson, the Brick, Johnny McLoone, Darragh Gallagher and replacement Aaron Thompson all fired over points as they hit six unanswered points to extend their advantage out to 13 points
Caolan McFadden raised Glenswilly’s second flag of the half five minutes from the end.
It may be early days yet, but with two opening defeats and Michael Murphy out for the foreseeable future and Neil Gallagher missing Sunday’s game complaining of an Achilles injury these are worrying times for Glenswilly.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Jason Campbell, Johnny Bonner, Stephen Molloy; Cathal Ellis, Tomas Donoghue, Eoin Waide; Martin Regan, A. J. Gallagher; Anthony Thompson, Seamus Corcorcan (0-1), Dermot Molloy (0-4,2f); Johnny McLoone (0-5), Darragh Gallagher (0-3,2f, 1,45), Leon Thompson (1-2). Subs: James Doherty for E. Waide (42); Aaron Thompson (0-2) for S. Corcorcan (46); Marty Boyle for A.J. Gallagher (49); Dominic Bonner for C. Ellis (56); Ciaran Thompson for L. Thompson (59).
Glenswilly: Philip O’Donnell; Brian McDaid, Eamonn Ward, Rory McDaid; Joe Gibbons, James Pat McDaid, Ruairi Crawford; Barry Molloy, Aidan McDevitt (0-1); Darren McGinley, Gary McFadden (0-2,2f), Colm Farrell (0-1); Oisin Crawford, Caolan McFadden (0-2), Gerard McGrenra. Subs: Brian Farrelly for B.Farrell (42); Ryan Diver for R. McDaid (48); Peadar Toner for G. McGrenra (50); Ciaran Molloy for A. McDevitt (58).
Referee: Hugo Wallace (Burt).
Man of the match
A toss up between Johnny McLoone and Leon Thompson who teased and tormented the Glenswilly defence all afternoon until they were both substituted late on. In the end the nod comes down in favour of veteran McLoone for his leadership and influence on the field and the younger players around him. A number of his scores were off the top shelf with one in particular in the second half from about 40 metres into the breeze and off the outside of his left boot the score of the game.
With the sides level in 0-4 each at the end of the first quarter Naomh Conaill through Johnny McLoone, Leon Thompson and McLoone again hit three points in the space of four minutes to open up a three point lead.
Hugo Wallace was guilty of stopping play to deal with late challenges and third man tackles on a couple of occasions when it would have been more advantageous to let the play continue.
He also showed a lenient side and good common sense when having a word with Darren McGinley early in the second half having booked him earlier. Overall he had a good game.