Naomh Conaill retain their All-Ireland Gaeltacht title

Naomh Conaill retain their All-Ireland Gaeltacht title
Tom Comack @dgldemocrat

Naomh Conaill are All-Ireland Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta success this week for the second year in-a-row.

Naomh Conaill . . . . . . 1-16

An Gaeltacht . . . . . . . 2-10

This follows Monday’s All-Ireland final triumph over An Gaeltacht from Kerry in Ballyvourney in the Cork Gaeltacht.

Naomh Conaill were comfortable three point winners over the Kerry champions, the Kerry men scoring a late goal to give the final margin a slightly more favourable look to it.

The champions were without county men Leo McLoone, Anthony and Ciaran Thompson and Eoin Waide - drafted into the Donegal squad in recent weeks - as well the club’s four county minors - J D Boyle, Kieran Gallagher, Eoghan McGettigan and Jack Flannery.

In all joint managers Martin Regan and Martin Doherty were without up to ten of their senior squad.

A number of regulars were also ruled out through injury while also a number players did not travel due the Leaving Certificate starting this week.

With man of the match Eunan Doherty setting the tone, Naomh Conaill were playing their fourth game in three days.

Doherty kicked three points from wing-back and was the standout player in the final.

And with Doherty running at the An Gaeltacht defence at every opportunity and Darragh Gallagher and Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy in point scoring form, the champions led by double scores at half-time, 0-8 to 0-4,

Naomh Conaill went 0-10 to 0-4 up early on the resumption before the Kerry champions did mount a charge with a goal and two pointed frees from full-forward Sean O Conchúir to reduce the margin to one.

But Naomh Conaill simply went back up through the gears once more and a Leon Thompson goal put daylight between the sides once more.

A second Kerry goal from Eoin McGearailt raised Kingdom hopes but Naomh Conaill coolly pulled away again for a comfortable victory.

In their first game on Saturday morning in the preliminary round Naomh Conaill defeated Mayo champions, Belmullet, 1-15 to 2-6 and on Saturday evening in the quarter final they emerged nine point winners over Wolfe Tones, Meath, in a very open game on a score of 4-23 to 6-8. In Sunday evening’s semi-final they came from behind to defeat the home team Naomh Aban, by three points, thanks to late strikes from Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and Seamus Corcoran.

Naomh Conaill led that game 1-10 to 1-7 at half-time before the locals stormed back into the game and went in front with a little over 12 minutes remaining.

Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Kevin McGettigan, Cathal Ellis, Aaron Thompson (0-1); Eunan Doherty (0-3), Marty Boyle (0-1), Mark Gallagher; Ethan O’Donnell, A J Gallagher; Darragh Gallagher (0-2), Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy (0-4,3f, Seamus Corcoran; Brendan McDyer (0-1), John O’Malley (0-3), Leon Thompson (1-1). Subs: Stephen Molloy for M Gallagher; Jamie McHugh for L Thompson; Hugh Gallagher for A J Gallagher.

Strength in depth key to All Ireland success - Doherty

Naomh Conaill’s strength in depth was the big positive to come out of the club’s All-Ireland Comórtas success according to joint manager, Martin Doherty.

“It was a very good weekend for us and things went really well for us and it was brilliant to win the All Ireland again for the second year in-a-row,” said Martin Doherty.

“We travelled without our county men, seven players between the seniors and the minors and we still travelled with 26 players and won.

“Every one of the 26 played at some stage over the four games and contributed to the success and that is the real positive to come out of the weekend.

“The players that came into the side fitted in and played well. We threw Martin Gallagher and Jamie McHugh in at the weekend and they did well and Eunan Doherty really came of age at the weekend.

“Eunan was man of the match in the final but he was brilliant in all the games. We also brought Ethan O’Donnell down for the semi-final and he gave us a great lift.

“The semi-final on Sunday was our toughest game against the local team Naomh Aban. They had the home support behind them.

“We got off to a great start and went six up but they got a goal before half-time that brought them back into the game. And they went ahead in the second half but we pegged them back and Brick and John O’Malley kicked the points to close out the game.

“It was a similar story in the final against An Gaeltacht.

But I feel we were the better team and deserved to win.”