There were bonfires from Ballybofey to Glencolumbkille last night as Naomh Columba’s footballers to the Co. minor title.
Naomh Columba 3-14
Na Rossa 0-7
Two Paddy Byrne goals and a Dominic Gallagher strike sealed the win over Na Rossa and take home the Division 2 countytitle. It was a victory that was enough to complete the double of championship and league, which was clinched with a 4-5 to 2-8 victory over Termon in Glenties in May.
Yesterday evening, after an awkward opening against Declan Bonner’s young side in the 13-a-side final, Noel Hegarty’s team were level at 0-3 apiece but turned the tide in the last five minutes of the first half. It was like Hegarty had just flicked a switch.
A goal, somewhat fortuitously, from Paddy Byrne helped tip the balance of power and Naomh Columba used the blustery elements at their back to the favour to post a reasonably healthy half-time advantage of 1-7 to 0-3.
Naomh Columba had shown their form in the Southern Minor Board final, with a 2-12 to 1-5 win over Na Rossa and had the experience of reaching last year’s county final having lost to St Mary’s from Convoy.
Na Rossa opened brightly, though, and despite Ryan Gillespie of Naomh Columba scoring the first two points of the day, Ryan McMonagle and John McDyre were on the mark to ensure parity by the 25th minute.
But from then on it was a Naomh Columba procession and Byrne’s goal acted as the catalyst for the push. It came laced with a bit of luck as it appeared as though Pauric Ward’s punt in the wind might’ve sailed further than it did but when it unexpectedly hung up it was
Byrne who slapped home.
Na Rossa might’ve been scarred by such a concession but that was only
the iceberg’s tip. Ryan Gillespie, Stephen Jones and a perfectly
weighted 45 from Ward gave Naomh Columba the seven-point lead at the break.
Philip McNern, Byrne and Jamie McGinley knocked over points to open as it began to dusk both on September’s first Sunday and on Na Rossa.
When Adam McHugh was sent off for two yellow cards in as many minutes on the 40-minute mark, there was only going to be one winner.
Byrne scored his second goal on 43 minutes when he made a decent break into space. Again, Ward assisted, with a ball into the square that Byrne got onto and despite being pulled, managed to steer home for a 2-11 to 0-4 lead.
Byrne provided much more than the 2-6 he kicked and there was little doubt over just where the trophy was headed. Gallagher smashed home a third goal in injury time for the final nail.
Naomh Columba: Eddie Curran; Philip Doherty, Christopher Byrne; Jason McGill, Pauric Ward (0-1), Conor Kennedy; Paddy Byrne (2-5, 3f, 45), Jamie McGinley (0-1); Philip McNern (0-1), Pauric Cunningham, Paul Doherty; Ryan Gillespie (0-5, 2f), Stephen Jones (0-1). Subs: Conor Carr for Kennedy (50), Dominc Gallagher (1-0) for P Cunningham (53), Paddy McNelis for McGill (56), John McGuire for Jones (59).
Na Rossa: Ryan McGonigle; Christy Greene, Adam McHugh; Conor McCahill, Jamie McCready, John McDyre (0-2); Conor Bonner, Christian Bonner (0-1); Conor Melly, Sean McMonagle, Gerard Breslin (0-1); Odhran Molloy, Ryan McMonagle (0-3, 1f). Subs: Pauric O’Neill for P Doherty (52), Nathan Keys for McCahill (58), aidan McCahill for Molloy (60).
Referee: Paddy McGonigle (Buncrana).