GAOTH DOBHAIR V NAOMH CONAILL: Gaoth Dobhair retain their Donegal U-21A title

Cian Mulligan's first half hat-trick does the trick

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

Gaoth Dobhair are Donegal U-21A football champions once again following this afternoon’s six point win over Naomh Conaill  in O’Donnell Park.

Gaoth Dobhair 3-11

Naomh Conaill 3-5

Last year’s winners are once again celebrating after completing the back to back wins over Aodh Ruadh and Naomh Conaill.

Cian Mulligan scored the three goals, all in the first half while Michael Carroll, Dáire Ó Baoill, team captain Niall Friel, Seaghan Friel, Gavin McBride and Naoise Ó Baoill all turned in big performances.

Paul McGuinness, JD Boyle and Charles McGuinness scored the goals for a game Naomh Conaill who, though on the back foot from early on, battled bravely to  the  end.

It was an eight point game at half-time as the defending champions led 3-6 to 2-1.

Cian Mulligan on six, 27 and 31 minutes scored the Gaoth Dobhair goals. Gavin McBride (3), Conor Boyle and  Dáire Ó Baoill (2) hit the points for the defending champions  who at times early on looked a class apart.

Paul McGuinness, with a brilliant strike, scored the first of the Naomh Conaill goals and JD Boyle hit their second and Charles McGuinness knocked over the Naomh Conaill point.

Gaoth Dobhair began like champions and broke from the blocks in impressive fashion and they had 1-3 on the board before Naomh Conaill had time to catch their breath.

Cian Mulligan flicked home the opening goal as early as the sixth minute after being sent clear by  Michael Carroll.

County senior Carroll looked like a man among boys in those early exchanges.

Mulligan’s  goal opened up a four point advantage and Gavin McBride, on the edge of the square, extended the lead out to five points.

It wasn’t looking good for Naomh Conaill at this stage as they struggled with the power, pace and off the ball running of Carroll, Dáire and Naoise Ó Baoill and Gavin McBride and company.

But a super individual Paul McGuinness goal against the run of play on 17 minutes - Naomh Conaill’s first score - got the men in blue and white up and running.

And six minutes later it was all square thanks to a Charles McGuinness point and brilliant JD Boyle goal. Boyle took the ball on the run from Ethan O’Donnell to drill past a static Charles J Doherty between the Gaoth Dobhair’s posts.

But it is a measure of how good this Gaoth Dobhair side are that in a flash they were back in the driving seat. Points from Dáire Ó Baoill and Gavin McBride and two goals in the space of four minutes from Mulligan saw the champions go in eight points up, 3-6 to 2-1 at at half-time.  

Naomh Conaill faced a big mountain on the resumption and that mountain became an Everest as the champions moved into a ten point  lead within seven minutes of the restart.

Jamie Boyle, grandson of the legendary Hugie Tim Boyle; Michael Carroll and Naoise Ó Baoill hit the Gaoth Dobhair points to one from Paul McGuinness.

Gaoth Dobhair led 3-9 to  2-2 with a little over 20 minutes remaining.

But to their credit Naomh Conaill  refused to go down without a fight and a third Naomh Conaill goal with a little under ten minutes remaining reduced the margin to six points.

Charles McGuinness, who came agonisingly close to finding the net in the opening seconds of the second half, found the net after taking a long delivery from his brother Paul.

However, by this stage the horse had bolted and while McGuinness added a point to reduce the margin to five, Jamie Boyle converted a late free for a comfortable six point win for the Magheragallon men before Niall Friel lifted the cup.

GAOTH DOBHAIR: Charles J Doherty; Ciaran McHugh, Gary McFadden, Jamie Boyle(0-2,1f) Conor McCafferty, Niall Friel, Seaghan Ferry;  Cian Mulligan (3-0), Odhran McFadden Ferry; Neasan McBride, Michael Carroll (0-1), Dáire Ó Baoill (0-2); Conor Boyle (0-1), Gavin McBride (0-4), Naoise Ó Baoill(0-1). Subs: Dannan MacLochlainn for N Ó Baoill 58; Sean Brown for N McBride 62.  

NAOMH CONAILL: James Boyle; Kevin McGettigan, Ultan Doherty, Jamie Cranley;  J D Boyle (1-0), Tony Byrne (0-1), Odhran Doherty(0-1); Logan Quinn, Charles McGuinness (1-2,1f); Keelan McGill, Paul McGuinness (1-1), Eoghan McGettigan; Caolan McMonagle, Danny Gallagher, Ethan O’Donnell. Subs: Shane McDevitt for D Gallagher h/t;  Jeaic McKelvey for K McGill 43; Jack Flannery for J D Boyle 48.

REFEREE: Seamus McGonigle (Aodh Ruadh).