Naomh Conaill are Donegal minor champions for a ninth time following a dramatic win over St Eunan’s in Convoy.
Naomh Conaill . . . . . . . . . . . 1-11
St Eunan’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0-11
Wing back Keelan McGill was the toast of Naomh Conaill as his injury time goal was the decisive score in an absorbing minor final.
The champions were trailing by a point, 0-10 to 0-11, when McGill, up in attack, first timed to the St Eunan’s net from five metres after the ball broke in the goalmouth.
In a tie where the sides were level seven times, Naomh Conaill just about deserved their victory. They showed a little more hunger when it mattered.
However, St Eunan’s will rue a couple of first half goal chances.
Naomh Conaill opened at a blistering pace and hit the game’s three opening points, two from Eoghan McGettigan and one from Paul McGuinness.
McGettigan got the scoring board ticking on two minutes when he drove over from a tight angle.
McGuinness added the second two minutes later after a slow methodical build up and a good pass from Jack Flannery.
And McGettigan followed up shortly after with another brilliant point. Naomh Conaill were really buzzing at this stage with Kieran Gallagher raking the skies in the middle of the field and McGettigan and Flannery moving well up front.
St Eunan’s were enjoying their fair share of possession but they were a little wayward in their finishing. Niall O’Donnell and Evan McCroary dropped strikes short into the ‘keeper.
And O’Donnell also drove wide under pressure shortly before he opened his team’s account. That was on 12 minutes when he converted from in front of the posts after he had been fouled as he bore down on goals. St Eunan’s were up and running when O’Donnell converted from 20 metres after Kevin Kealy was fouled.
And the black and ambers were on level terms when O’Donnell did the business after a Dylan McCroary shot cannoned off the crossbar.
St Eunan’s were finally finding their rhythm and they were carving openings.
For the lead point O’Donnell skimmed the crossbar for what was a good goal chance.
O’Donnell had a couple of other goal chances but had to be happy with points to send his team in 0-6 to 0-5 in front at the end of a entertaining and highly competitive first half hour.
Paul McGuinness and Logan Quinn kicked the late Naomh Conaill points.
The early stages of the second half was a carbon copy of the first half as Naomh Conaill hit three points in the space of the opening eight minutes.
McGettigan hit the first within 12 seconds of the restart after Kieran Gallagher grabbed the throw-in and drove through the heart of the St Eunan’s defence.
And McGettigan converted from 40 metres for a 0-7 to 0-6 lead before J D Boyle went forward to open up a two point lead.
But just like they had done in the first half, St Eunan’s battled back and Dylan McCroary reduced the gap to a single point.
That was one 39 minutes and while both teams had chances it took 11 minutes before Niall O’Donnell tied up the game for the sixth time at 0-8 each with ten minutes of normal time remaining.
But Naomh Conaill’s response was swift and two quick points from substitute Keelan McMonagle and McGettigan restored Naomh Conaill’s lead with five minutes on the clock.
With the game on a knife edge and the clock ticking O’Donnell with his eighth point tied up the game for a seventh time.
And it was advantage St Eunan’s when Dylan McCroary, under pressure, edged the O’Donnell Park boys into a point lead, 0-11 to 0-10, on the stroke of the hour mark.
With four minutes of injury time allotted there was plenty of time and a draw at least and extra-time was looking on.
And boy did Naomh Conaill take their chance. Deep in added time Keelan McMonagle hit Nathan Byrne with a quick free, the ball broke from the burly Byrne, and fell into the path of wing back Keelan McGill who first timed to the net for the decisive goal and a 1-10 to 0-11 score line.
The title was on it’s way to Glenties shortly after when Byrne landed the insurance point with literally the last kick of the game.