Four Masters came away from Davy Brennan Park in Glenties with a commendable five-point win over Naomh Conaill.
Naomh Conaill 1-9
Four Masters 2-11
Paul Durcan demonstrated why he is considered odds-on favourite for an All-Star. With the Four Masters front line very wasteful in front of goal it was left to Durcan to keep the Donegal Town outfit in the game with a succession of fine saves.
Naomh Conaill started the livelier and within a minute managed to work a chance for Leon Thompson, who was one on one with Durcan but the Donegal goalkeeper came smartly of his line to dispossess forward.
From the kick-out, Four Masters worked the ball upfield for Shane Carr to register the first point of the day. Four minutes later Brendan McDyre registered Naomh Conaill’s first score with a well struck point from 40 metres.
However, parity was short lived when a minute later Four Masters turned over possession in midfield and swift transfer of the ball left Michael Doherty free in front of goal and he gave Stephen McGrath in the Naomh Conaill goal with little chance to save.
This score was immediately followed by a lovely Karl Lacey point. Naomh Conaill then hit three scores in a three-minute spell. A Dara Gallagher free and a Leon Thompson point were immediately followed by a Dermot Molloy goal.
A further point from Dara Gallagher and two Four Masters points from Conor McMonagle and Karl Lacey left the teams level going in a half-time.
On the resumption play had barely commenced when an injury to Cathal Ellis required the introduction of Anthony Thompson. This however could not prevent Four Masters from registering the first three scores of the half from Lacey and two frees and Steven Keeney.
Two points from Eoin Waide and Seamus Corcoran brought the gap back to one but a second Doherty goal in the 16th minute of the half and another Karl Lacey free put five points between the sides.
Even the introduction of Leo McLoone at this late stage could not change matters and three Naomh Conaill points from Dermot Molloy were cancelled by points from Oisin McGinty, Sean O’Kennedy and a Lacey free to leave the gap at five points at the final whistle.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Stephen Molloy, Johnny Bonner, James Doherty; Marty Boyle, Cathal Ellis, Eoin Waide (0-1); Martin Regan, Johnny McLoone; Brendan McDyre (0-1), Dermot Molloy (1-3, 3f), Dara Gallagher (0-2 1f); John O’Malley, Seamus Corcoran (0-1), Leon Thompson (0-1). Subs: Anthony Thompson for Cathal Ellis (33) Leo McLoone for Martin Regan (50), Ciaran Thompson for John O’Malley (53).
Four Masters: Paul Durcan; Darren Walsh, Barry Monaghan, Danny McGarrigle; Conor McMonagle (0-1), Conor Rooney, Josh Lacey; Karl Lacey (0-6, 4f), Frank McMullen; Michael Doherty (2-0), Luke Keeney, Sean O’Kennedy (0-1); Oisin McGinty(0-1), Shane Carr(0-1), Peadar Espey. Sub: Stephen Keeney (0-1) for Peadar Espey (40).