Fanad Gaels turned on the style in the second half as they proved too good for Naomh Muire in this first round, first leg clash at the Banks.
Fanad Gaels 2-9
Naomh muire 0-7
Level at half-time after Michael Sweeney and Seamie Friel (Nanny) posted two late points into the breeze Fanad took complete control in the second half.
This was down in no small way to Sweeney awakening to the challenge after a poor first half performance by his own high standards. And from the moment the two Seamie Friels combined, for Seamie Nanny to bang home their first goal the All-Ireland Gaeltacht champions had the look of winners about them.
The second goal after a mazy Sweeney run from midfield five minutes from the end polished off a slick second half performance from Kevin ‘Cookie’ Gallagher’s men.
It was a win and performance that was all the more impressive as they were without their spiritual leader Paddy McConigley (on holidays) and away from home against a side with championship ambitions.
This certainly was a good result for Fanad. They were strong at the back where Cathal Martin, Joe Blaney, Frank Sweeney, Paddy Shiels, Ryan McGonagle and Ronan McAteer excelled and did not put a foot wrong throughout.
Brendan Callaghan put in an honest shift throughout while the two Seamie Friels and Mark Friel - who as usual convered every blade of grass in the Banks - were in sparkling form and were at the centre of all that was good about the winners.
While it was all pretty easy at the finish and the winning margin was eight points, it all looked so different early on.
It was the locals that played the champagne football in the opening exchanges and none more so more than corner forward Harry Harden who popped over two delightful points off his left boot.
Naomh Muire led 0-2 to 0-1 after nine minutes with Seamie Nanny scored Fanad’s opener on six minutes. And while Seimie Cosha, after a patient Fanad build up, landed a massive point from all of 40 metres to tie up the game, Naomh Muire responded with a Sean ‘Yank’ Boyle 40 metre free and a close-in conversion from Harden to move two clear again, with just a minute remaining in the half.
Boyle, too, was denied an opportunity to score a goal in the middle of the half with a point blank save from Mark McConigley.
This was a most definite turning point as a Naomh Muire goal at that stage would have put daylight between the teams.
With the locals two in front and the clock ticking on half-time Michael Sweeney, in the first minute of injury time pulled a point back for Fanad.
And it was all square when Seamie Nanny converted from a ‘45’ after Sean Gallagher deflected a Sweeney shot on goal.
While Harden kicked the first score of the second period it was not long until Fanad took over. Sweeney pointed from long range to tie up the game,.
And the vistors were in front shortly afterwards for the first time when Mark Friel skimmed Sean Gallagher’s crossbar for what was a great goal chance.
Within a minute the goal did come when Seamie Cosha from way out in the right corner found Seamie Nanny in space in front of the Naomh Muire posts for the crucial goal.
That was on on 38 minutes and opened up a 1-6 to 0-5 advantage. Harden did pull one back but with Fanad’s dander up Nanny and Paddy Shiels added points before Sweeney struck for the second goal to bring down the curtain on the scoring.
Fanad Gaels: Mark McConigley; Joe Blaney, Cathal Martin, Frank Sweeney; Paddy Shiels (0-1), Ryan McGonagle, Ronan McAteer; Brendan Callaghan, Michael Sweeney (1-2); Mark McAteer, Seamie Friel(Nanny)(1-4, 1,f, 1,45), James Coyle; Sean McGovern, Seamie Friel (Cosha)(0-1), Mark Friel (0-1). Sub: Fergal Friel for S McGovern (56).
Naomh Muire: Sean Gallagher; Robbie O’Donnell, Brian Gillespie, Daniel Gallagher; Aidy O’Gara, Thomas Duffy, Hugh Martin; Darragh White, Owenie McGarvey; Sean Paul Gallagher, Padraig McCafferty, Ciaran McCafferty; Sean’Yank’ Boyle (0-2,2f), Owen Grant, Harry Harden (0-5,1,f). Subs: Hugh ‘Yank’ Boyle for H Martin (40), John Pigeon for D White (41).
Referee: Martin Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).