By Diarmaid Doherty
Naomh Conaill gave a hint of what they might bring to the championship in the weeks ahead when they delivered a convincing win over St. Eunan's at O'Donnell Park on Saturday night.
St. Eunan's . . 1-14
Naomh Conaill . . 4-12
The opening quarter aside, Naomh Conaill were really impressive with Dermot Brick Molloy producing another quality display in attack.
He scored 1-4 in a first half that was pretty even up until the dying minutes when the visitors gained control.
St. Eunan's trailed by six points at half time, 2-6 to 0-6, but their task became almost impossible when they conceded a third goal almost immediately after the restart when Ethan O'Donnell fired to the net.
Brick Molloy was involved in the move that led to his team's fourth goal on 43 minutes – Leo McLoone racing through and drawing the keeper before setting up Brendan McDyer for an easy finish.
St. Eunan's, to their credit, had their moments too and they hit 1-5 without reply in the closing period. Their goal came from a Conor Gibbons penalty and he ended the game with 1-3.
St. Eunan's however, will be disappointed to have conceded so many goals and that, ultimately, proved the difference.
The game was barely 12 seconds old when Naomh Conaill struck for the opening goal. Brick Molloy was fed by Leo McLoone and with time and space, he was able to plant his shot to the net past Matthew Gallagher.
But St. Eunan's quickly settled and within eight minutes, they were back level thanks to points from David Tyrrell (2) and Patrick McGowan.
The home side looked really good coming forward and two points within a minute from McGowan saw them lead 0-5 to 1-0.
Brendan McDyer kicked a fine point for Naomh Conaill before they got their second goal on 19 minutes when John O'Malley scored from a penalty awarded for a foot block in front of goal.
Darragh McWalters responded with a point for St. Eunan's but after regaining the lead, Naomh Conaill suddenly had a pep in their step. They enjoyed a period of domination before half time and Brick Molloy kicked four points as they raced into a six point lead, 2-6 to 0-6.
St. Eunan's needed an early response after half time but hopes of a comeback ended when Naomh Conaill struck for their third goal less than two minutes in.
St. Eunan's: Matthew Gallagher: Conor Morrison, Darragh McWalters (0-2), Conor Parke; Sean McVeigh, Caolan Ward, Eamonn Doherty; Andrew Doherty, Rory Kavanagh (0-3); Daniel Gillespie, Brian McIntyre, David Tyrrell (0-3); Conor Gibbons (1-3, 1f, pen), Patrick McGowan (0-3, 1f), Conall Dunne.
Subs: Peter Devine for McVeigh (35), Ciaran Sharkey for McIntyre (43), John Haran for Gillespie (51).
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Kevin McGettigan, AJ Gallagher, Jason Campbell; Cathal Ellis, Anthony Thompson, Eunan Doherty; Leo McLoone, Ciaran Thompson (0-1); Ethan O'Donnell (1-1), Seamus Corcoran (0-1), James Doherty (0-1); John O'Malley (1-1, pen, 1f), Dermot Molloy (1-6, 4f), Brendan McDyer (1-1).
Subs: Aaron Thomson for Gallagher (37), Stephen Molloy for McGettigan (41), Jamie McHugh for C Thompson (49), Leon Thompson for McDyer (49), Ultan Doherty for E Doherty (52), Hughie Gallagher for O'Donnell 59).
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin (Malin).