Naomh Conaill's Anthony Thompson in possession under pressure from Michael Murphy . Picture: Thomas Gallagher
Naomh Conaill are back in another county final following this two point win over Glenswilly in MacCumhaill Park on Saturday night.
Naomh Conaill . . . 1-11
Glenswilly . . . 0-12
Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy’s first half goal was the decisive score in this tie and ultimately was the difference between the sides at the end of a high quality semi-final.
The game ended in controversy when referee Shaun McLaughlin seemed to blow the game up 27 seconds early in injury time and after Michael Murphy elected to go short from a free to Kealan McFadden.
The Brick struck for the goal on 12 minutes, and the score, like a number of Naomh Conaill’s first half points, came from a Glenswilly mistake at the back.
Eamon Ward was stripped of possession in the tackle in his own half-back line before the ball found its way to Brendan McDyre.
McDyre quickly found the Brick in behind the cover and the former county man smashed the ball to the roof of James Gallagher’s net.
That was on 12 minutes and opened up a 1-2 to 0-2 lead after Glenswilly opened with points from Mark McAteer and Michael Murphy, inside the opening five minutes.
Naomh Conaill had responded with points from Brendan McDyre and the Brick, before the two combined for the goal.
McDyre was the only change from the team that started against Kilcar six days earlier in the quarter-final.
The Naomh Conaill ploy of using Ciaran Thompson and Ciaran Gallagher to take Glenswilly's Eamon Ward from in front of the posts had an unsettling effect on the normally reliable full-back.
Leo McLoone from play and a Ciaran Thompson score, either side of a long range Michael Murphy strike, meant Naomh Conaill were four ahead going into the closing five minutes in the half.
But two quick points off the boots of Gary McFadden from a free and Cormac Callaghan made it a two point game and Glenswilly were still well in the game with the clock ticking on the half.
But Leo McLoone, after a Joe Gibbons pass was intercepted, skimmed the crossbar for a three point half-time lead.
Ethan O’Donnell and Caoimhin Marley traded early points on the resumption before Brick Molloy and Anthony Thompson made it a four point game by the end of the third quarter.
Cathal Gallagher and Eunan Doherty exchanged points before Joe Gibbons cut the lead to two with ten minutes of normal time remaining.
And shortly after Gary McFadden converted from a long range free to reduce the margin to one.
But Naomh Conaill forged two ahead again on 55 minutes before Murphy converted to reduce the margin to two, in the second minute of injury.
But it wasn't enough and Naomh Conaill, beaten finalists in 2017, are back in the Senior Championship decider and will face the winners of Sunday's second semi-final between Gaoth Dobhair and MacCumhaill's.
NAOMH CONAILL: Stephen McGrath; Marty Boyle, AJ Gallagher, Jason Campbell; Kevin McGettigan, Antony Thompson (0-1), Eoin Wade; Ethan O’Donnell (0-1), Kieran Gallagher; Brendan McDyre (0-1), Leo McLoone (0-2), Ultan Doherty; Dermot Brick Molloy (1-2,1f), Ciaran Thompson (0-2, 2f), Eunan Doherty (0-1).
Subs; Eoghan McGettigan (0-1) for K Gallagher 49; John O’Malley for Eunan Doherty 60; Kieran Gallagher for Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy 62; Aaron Thompson for B McDyre 64.
GLENSWILLY: James Gallagher; Mark McAteer (0-1), Eamon Ward, Ruairi Crawford; Oisin Crawford, Sean Wogan, Joe Gibbons (0-1); Neil Gallagher, Caolan Kelly; Cathal Gallagher (0-2), Caoimhin Marley (0-2), Cormac Callaghan (0-1); Brian Farrelly, Michael Murphy (0-3, 1f), Gary McFadden (0-2, 2f).
Subs: Ryan Diver for J Gibbons, Kealan McFadden for B Farrelley 56; Ciaran Gibbons for Oisin Crawford, Leon Kelly for C Gallagher 60.
REFEREE: Shaun McLaughlin (Malin).