DONEGAL GAA - SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP

Gaoth Dobhair make big statement with win over Naomh Conaill

Staff reporter

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Staff reporter

Gaoth Dobhair make big statement with win over Naomh Conaill

Action from Gaoth Dobhair v N Conaill in Maghergallon Photo Thomas Gallagher

Long threatening comes at last, as an impressive Gaoth Dobhair took a big step towards capturing the Dr Maguire Cup after an emphatic victory over Naomh Conaill in windy Magheragallon.

Gaoth Dobhair 0-12
Naomh Conaill 0-6

Gaoth Dobhair last won a title in 2006 and it was 2002 before that when one Kevin Cassidy was on board and won an All-Star to boot.
Eamon and Neil McGee were also on board.
At 37, Cass is still around and has all the hunger of a teenager in his quest for a third county medal
And Mervyn O’Donnell’s men sent out a strong signal at breezy Magheragallon that they really mean business after this impressive victory over wasteful Naomh Conaill, who hit 15 wides.
In contrast Gaoth Dobhair hit only six as big players like Odhran MacNiallais, Eamon McGee, Kieran Gillespie and Cian Mulligan really walked tall.
This game was effectively won as Gaoth Dobhair hit a golden patch in the third quarter when they tacked on five points in eight minutes.
The pick of these came from the impressive Cian Mulligan and a magnificent 60 metres free from the majestic MacNiallais.
They held their hapless opponents to one point as Glenties hit seven wides, the same number as they hit in the first half.
The losers had the benefit of a gale force breeze in the opening half, but were never able to pull away from a Gaoth Dobhair side that worked like demons.
Naomh Conaill did not push up on their opponents until the last ten minutes but found little change from a disciplined and mobile defence.
Their only score from play of the half came from the boot of full-forward Ciaran Thompson in the 32nd minute.
But they were outscored by 0-8 to 0-1 thereafter.
Naomh Conaill, who started with their injured captain Brendan McDyer, started with a big breeze and were quickly off the mark through a point from Leo McLoone after 12 seconds.
But this was quickly cancelled by a similar effort from Gaoth Dobhair’s burly centre-back Kieran Gillespie.
That set the tone of a cat and mouse affair with both sides probing patient like a dentist looking for the raw nerve.
Gavin McBride put Gaoth Dobhair ahead from a free kick only for the well-marked Ciaran Thompson to level matters.
The hugely athletic Odhran MacNiallais then put the Gaeltacht men back in front after Eamon McGee pressurised a Naomh Conaill defender.
MacNiallais leapt almost as high as Errigal for a kick out, prompting Martin McHugh to remark that if he had been younger the Aussie Rules would come calling.
But Gaoth Dobhair had a major let off in the 19th minute when a poor kick out found Naomh Conaill’s Anthony Thompson on the 14-metre line.
A certain goal looked on, but he blazed the ball high over the bar.
And then a huge roar washed over Magheragallon as 36-year-old Kevin Cassidy hit a superb point into the breeze to put the home side back in front by 0-4 to 0-3 in the 23rd minute.
But that was to be their last score of the half as Eoin Waide and Aaron Thompson edged Glenties in front as they led by 0-5 to 0-4 at the break.
It took Gaoth Dobhair a while to find their range in the second half. But once they did, there was always only going to be one winner.
MacNiallais and Mulligan levelled matters at 0-6 each by the 40th minute.
Mulligan gave the increasingly rampant home side, that was picking up all the breaks at midfield, the lead and they never looked back.
Leo McLoone tried hard to rally his Glenties troops, but they continually came off second best against a Gaoth Dobhair side that has loads of physical power and panache.
This was a thoroughly deserved victory for the winners who have now qualified for the next stage in this group of death.
But they will want to go forward as champions of the group so neighbours Dungloe could be in for a torrid time next week.
Glenties now face a real do or die battle against St Eunan’s in the Davy Brennan Memorial Park next weekend.
They will be very disappointed with their shot selection and finishing.
So it could be a real cracker with Eunan’s and Martin Regan’s men will be hoping that they can rediscover some badly needed accuracy.

GAOTH DOBHAIR: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Christopher McFadden; Niall Friel (0-2), Kieran Gillespie (0-1) Odhran McFadden/Ferry; Daire O’Baoill, Odhran MacNiallais (0-3,1f); Cian Mulligan (0-2), Naoise O’Baoill, Eamon McGee (0-1) ; Gavin McBride (0-1,f) Kevin Cassidy (0-1), Michael Carroll. Subs: Eamon Collum (0-1) for Gavin McBride (45), Peter McGee for Eamon McGee (56) Seaghan Ferry for Michael Carroll (60)

NAOMH CONAILL: Stephen McGrath; Aaron Thompson (0-1), AJ Gallagher, Jason Campbell; Ultan Doherty, Anthony Thompson (0-1), Eoin Waide (0-1); Kieran Gallagher, Leo McLoone (0-1); Kevin McGettigan, Eoghan McGettigan, Eunan Doherty; Marty Boyle, Ciaran Thompson (0-2f), Brendan McDyer. Subs., John O’Malley for Brendan McDyer (20), Jeaic MacCeallbhui for Kieran Gallagher (52)

Referee: Enda McFeely (Convoy)