Naomh Conaill are celebrating back-to-back Donegal Comórtas Peil Na Gaeltachta titles and a fourth in all following Bank Holiday Monday’s final win over Ardara in Davy Brennan Memorial Park.
Naomh Conaill . . . . . . . . . 3-14
Ardara . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-6
Ethan O’ Donnell Jason Campbell and Leon Thompson scored the goals for Naomh Conaill, who lined out with Anthony Thompson at centre half-forward but held Leo McLoone in reserve. McLoone replaced Thompson in the second half.
The champions played against the strong wind and led 2-7 to 2-3 at half-time with O’Donnell and Campbell bagging the goals.
Tomas Boyle scored the Ardara goal from the penalty spot on ten minutes after Peter McHugh was tripped by Naomh Conaill ‘keeper Stephen McGrath. Boyle beat Tony Byrne, the replacement ‘keeper after McGrath was shown a black card for the trip on McHugh. Gareth Concarr beat Byrne for a second time four minutes later after good play from Ryan Malley to tie up the game Naomh Conaill 1-5 to 2-2.
Ardara, who were without the injured duo of Paddy McGrath and team captain Conor Classon, were more than a match for Naomh Conaill at this stage. The pace and off the ball running of Malley, Concarr and veteran McHugh asked questions of the Naomh Conaill defence something which will have pleased new manager Seamus Gallagher. .
“Playing against the wind in the first half we knew we had to work hard and we went in a couple points up at half-time,”said Martin Doherty, who is Naomh Conaill joint manager along with Martin Regan.
“We were quite happy to turn around with the wind though I thought the wind died a wee bit in the second half.”
Playing a fast running and open brand of football they cruised to their fourth Donegal title in the second half as they outscored Ardara 1-7 to 1-2..
Kenneth Doherty scored Ardara’s third goal five minutes from time and by that stage Naomh Conaill had clocked up 3-13 and a 11 point lead.
“We felll asleep for five or six minutes in the second half but then we lifted it when it mattered and won comfortably enough in the end.
“Overall we are happy with the performance and I thought the young lads did well. Ethan O’Donnell was superb; he was a contender for man of the match. He fielded some great ball and ran at Ardara all through the game.
“Ultan Doherty did well in defence. Overall we are quite happy with the performance and we play Ardara again next weekend in the league, which is a big game for us. But for now we are just happy to retain the title. “
Naomh Conaill defeated Dungloe 0-16 to 1-9 and Ardara overcame first time semi-finalists Milford 0-15 to 0-9, in Sunday’s semi-finals.
Naomh Conaill, the reigning All-Ireland champions, and Ardara advance to the All-Ireland finals which are on in Ballyvourney, in Cork on the June Bank Holiday weekend. Naomh Conaill will face Mayo champions Belmullet, in a preliminary round tie and Ardara have been drawn against An Rinn of Waterford in a quarter final tie.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Ultan Doherty, Jason Campbell (1-0), Kevin McGettigan; Marty Boyle, Aaron Thompson, Eoin Waide (0-1); Charles McGuinness, Ethan O’Donnell (1-1); Eunan Doherty (0-1), Anthony Thompson, Seamus Corcoran (0-1); Dermot Molloy, John O’Malley (0-3), Leon Thompson (1-4). Subs: Tony Byrne for McGrath (10) Dara Gallagher for Corcoran (half-time), Cathal Ellis for McGuinness (42), Leo McLoone for Anthony Thompson (52).
Ardara: Cathal Gallagher; Oisin O’Donnell, Kenneth Doherty (1-1), Joe Melly; Nicholas Maguire, Johnny Herron, Kevin Herron; Jimmy O’Connell, Declan Gavigan; Peter McHugh, Ryan Malley (0-1), Tomás Boyle (1-1, 1-0 pen); CJ Molloy, Gareth Concarr (1-1), Lorcan O’Donnell. Subs: Aaron Bennett for T Boyle (17), Stefan Boyle (0-2, 1f) for Gavigan (27), Kelvin Slowey for O’Connell (37), Stephen Molloy for McGettigan (47)
Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Muire).