NAOMH CONAILL are through to the last eight of the Senior Championship following their six-point victory over St Naul’s, in Mountcharles, on Saturday evening.
ST NAUL’S 0-6
NAOMH CONAILL 0-12
They may have had a double score winning margin in the end, but unlike last Sunday’s first leg tie, which they bossed from start to finish and won 1-9 to 0-3, this was not the case this time around.
It was only in the closing 10 minutes that Naomh Conaill, one of the championship hot shots, pulled away with four points without reply from John O’Malley, two from second half substitute Darragh Gallagher and Dermot Molloy.
Up to the closing exchanges with the exception of the opening quarter hour when they hit four points to St Naul’s one – with Brendan McDyre, Molloy’s brace and Johnny McLoone responding to Stephen Griffin’s opening score, there was little between the sides.
St Naul’s play in Division Three of the All-County- Football League and were only in the Senior Championship because they won the Intermediate Championship last year.
But despite this they gave a good account of themselves and it would certainly have led to an interesting second half if Griffin had hit the Naomh Conaill net, as he should have done early in the second half after a bustling run from Fiachra McGinley.
With the visitors leading 0-7 to 0-5, Griffin blasted off the bottom of Stephen McGrath’s post after Fiachra McGinley drove through the Naomh Conaill defence.
That was on 43 minutes and a Naul’s goal at that stage would certainly have tested Naomh Conaill’s metal and mindset.
But the chance was missed, and when Gallagher, with his first shot on goals four minutes later split the Naul’s posts, the margin was out to 0-8 to 0-5 and there was an air of inevitability of the outcome. As realistically there was from the throw-in.
Griffin did reduce the gap to two again when he converted from close range on 52 minutes with what was St Naul’s only score of the second period.
However, that was as close as St Naul’s got and with Leo McLoone switching from full-forward to midfield following the introduction of Leon Thompson, Naomh Conaill’s edge in strength, fitness and undoubted superior football skill saw them finish strong with that late scoring spurt from messers O’Malley, Gallagher and Molloy.
In the closing seconds, too, Lee McBreaty pulled off a point blank save from Leon Thompson to maintain and air of respectability about the final score for the locals, and also to ensure that Naomh Conaill departed Gerard Gallagher Memorial Park, without any notions of grandeur.
This was far from champagne Naomh Conaill. In truth they never left third gear nor had they too.
And after winning the first game by nine points without breaking sweat and knowing deep down they were always going to win the second, it is easy to understand why the winners lacked crispness and urgency about their play.
St Naul’s: Lee McBrearty; Cathal Lowther, Stuart Johnston, Martin Gillespie; John Rose, Daniel Friel, Barry Griffin; Fiachra McGinley, Stephen Griffin (0-6, 6f); Eddie Gallagher, Mark Ward, Shane Connelly; Liam McGroarty, Paul McGroarty, Brian McCabe. Subs; Conor McDaid for L. McGroarty (41); James Flynn for McCabe (51).
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Jason Campbell, Johnny Bonner, Stephen Molloy; Cathal Ellis (0-1), Thomas Donoghue, Marty Boyle; Anthony Thompson, Martin Regan; Brendan McDyre (0-1), Johnny McLoone (0-1), John O’Malley (0-1); Seamus Corcoran, Leo McLoone, Dermot ‘Brick’Molloy (0-5, 4f). Subs: Darragh Gallagher for Campbell (39);Leon Thompson for Regan (44); Ciaran Thompson for O’Malley (56).
Man of the Match
Stephen Griffin kicked six points – the St Naul’s total – and Dermot Molloy posted five of Naomh Conaill’s total and both left their marks on the game.
But the man that stood out when it came to effort and commitment even when things were going against his team was St Naul’s midfielder Fiachra McGinley. He was the standout player and man of the match.
Jason Campbell, Brendan McDyre and Cathal Ellis from Naomh Conaill had their moments and Darragh Gallagher converted three long range frees on his introduction, for the winners while Barry Griffin and Shane Conneely were the other standout Naul’s players.
In a game that Naomh Conaill were always going to win any chance of St Naul’s had of causing the upset went when Stephen Griffin blasted off the bottom of Stephen McGrath’s right hand post on 43 minutes.
Ryan Walsh was too conspicuous which is never a good sign. He was also a little inconsistent in his calls, and on at least one occasion called back play to issue a yellow card when he should have allowed the game continue, and administer the punishment after the ball went dead.
Naomh Conaill win reserve fixture comfortably
Joe Kennedy and Jamie McHugh scored the goals as Naomh Conaill booked their place in the last eight of the Reserve Championship with a comfortable win over St. Naul’s.
Kennedy scored two of the goals, both in the second half after he replaced Ciaran Thompson at half-time with McHugh scoring his goal in the opening half.
Kennedy replaced Ciaran Thompson at half-time and after Thompson had posted six points to propel his team into the driving seat at the half-time interval.
Naomh Conaill: R O’Donnell; C McHugh, M Molloy, D Ward; H Gallagher, J Doherty, S Ellis; A McGeehan, AJ Gallagher; M McLoone (0-2), M Gallagher (0-2), J McHugh (1-3); E Doherty (0-1), C Thompson (0-6), C Molloy. Subs: J Kennedy (2-0) for Thompson; M Regan for Ellis; H Breslin for McGeehan; P McGill for Gallagher.
St. Naul’s: S Leonard; R Lowther, J Kenny, J McBreaty; S Kerr, P Burke, K McDaid; C Meehan, K Barry; A Meehan, A McGrory, M Quinn(0-3); S Cannon, J Carr, N Mullen.
Referee: John McGlanaghy (Four Masters).