NAOMH CONAILL breezed into the semi-finals of the Ráidio na Gaeltacha SFC following a commanding win over Bundoran at Sean MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey yesterday.
Naomh Conaill 1-10
Whatever chance the Seasiders had of causing an upset evaporated when Naomh Conaill goalkeeper Stephen McGrath saved a penalty from Fergal McKiernan with three minutes left. In truth, even had he scored it wouldn’t have altered the final outcome, as Naomh Conaill were very comfortable.
Outsiders Bundoran tried to match the two-time county champions in the physical stakes but Ciaran McCaughey overstepped the mark in the 24th minute when he struck out at Thomas Donoghue. The centre-fielder had previously been booked but that didn’t deter referee Jimmy White from flashing a straight red card.
At that stage, amid some poor shooting from both sides, Naomh Conaill were 0-3 to 0-1 in front, with Marty Boyle, Anthony Thompson and a Darragh Gallagher free comprising their total. Michael McEniff’s free on 12 minutes was to prove Bundoran’s only score of the first half.
A minute after McCaughey’s dismissal, Naomh Conaill drove home their advantage when Thompson freed Dermot Molloy in space and the Donegal county panellist had time to manufacture an angle for himself before smashing past Ashley Mulhern in the Bundoran goal. Naomh Conaill were
1-3 to 0-1 up at half-time.
There was a flaky nature to the contest before White had a chance to book two players – Tommy Hourihan of Bundoran and Naomh Conaill’s Boyle – before he even got a chance to toss the ball into the air at the start of the match.
McKiernan opened the second half with a Bundoran score but his side failed to build on that momentum when they kicked a couple of wides from positions of promise. That wastefulness was punished as Naomh Conaill chugged up a gear.
Leon Thompson, Johnny McLoone and Gallagher all scored from play in the third quarter before McEniff posted a neat effort at the other end. Midway through the second half, Naomh Conaill led 1-6 to 0-3.
Bundoran played in little spurts and had a couple of promising moments. They never, though, looked like toppling Naomh Conaill.
McEniff and then Hourihane, who went into the match with 2-11 to his name, scored his first of the day before being substituted.
However, the tide was from the River End and Gallagher, Brendan McDyre, the marauding full-forward Johnny Bonner and Seamus Corcoran sealed the win.
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Thomas Donoghue, Johnny Bonner (0-1), Jason Campbell; Stephen Molloy, Cathal Ellis, Marty Boyle (0-1); Anthony Thompson (0-1), Martin Regan; Brendan McDyre (0-1), Leo McLoone, Darragh Gallagher (0-3, 1f); Dermot Molloy (1-0), Leon Thompson (0-1), Johnny McLoone. Subs: John O’Malley for Donoghue (36), Seamus Corcoran (0-1) for L Thompson (52), Eoin Waide and Ciaran Thompson for Regan and S Molloy (56).
Bundoran: Ashley Mulhern; Diarmaid McCaughey, James Keaney, Johnny McHale; Gary Claney, Shane McGowan, Paul Sheridan; Ciaran McCaughey, Paul Delaney; Shane Moohan, Michael McEniff (0-3, 2f), Tommy Hourihane (0-1); Christy Keaney, Peter McGonigle, Fergal McKiernan (0-1). Subs: Adam Russell for Moohan (39), Niall Dunne for Delaney (43), Darragh Hoey for Hourihane (49).
Referee: Jimmy White.
Man of match
Stephen Molloy had a steady afternoon for Naomh Conaill but will undoubtedly face tougher challenges if his side are to match the achievements of 2005 and 2010.
Jimmy White had his hands full from even before the ball was thrown in. Ciaran McCaughey, who was already booked, gave the Killybegs official little choice for the red card and the referee wasn’t helped by a lot of niggles throughout.
Dermot Molloy punished Bundoran to the full after Ciaran McCaughey was dismissed. The Bundoran midfielder had barely left the field before Anthony Thompson put Molloy in on goal.