Gaoth Dobhair lived up to their billing as favourities and are county champions once more. They are a good side and good champions and hopefully they will do well in Ulster now. They certainly are a side capable of doing well in the province.
They won on Sunday by seven points, which was a comfortable enough margin, though I thought they played well within themselves and there is possibly another gear or two in them. They will need to go up a gear or two in Ulster.
As for the game, I enjoyed the first half and I thought it was a good standard of football with some decent passages of play and some wonderful point taking.
The game petered out in the second half after the sending off of Marty Boyle and Naomh Conaill were reduced to 14. I didn’t see the incident where Marty was sent off, it was off the ball. Referee Shaun McLaughlin did not see it either but it was brought to his attention by one of his linesmen.
But from what I gather he went to stop Eamon McGee make a run after delivering the ball and the two of them fell to the ground. It probably was a black card offence but with Marty already on a yellow it became a red card offence.
The sending off ended any chance Naomh Conaill had of making a game of it.
Naomh Conaill set up very defensively with 15 men behind the ball and when you do that you greatly reduce your chance of running up a match winning score.
It is interesting to note only Leo McLoone and Brendan McDyer from the starting Naomh Conaill forward line scored from play. They scored six points in the first half and only one point and the late goal in the second period.
I’m sure when they reflect on the game they see the need to be more direct. When the did attack and use the long high ball into Kieran Gallagher on the edge of the square it caused problems.
It was such a ball that led to Ciaran Thompson’s goal. Gaoth Dobhair were vulnerable to that high ball. It was about the only weakness I saw in Gaoth Dobhair.
Otherwise they were flawless. Eamon McGee showed great leadership at the start and went at Naomh Conaill from the off and set up the first couple of points to settle them in.
Odhrán MacNiallais was class for Gaoth Dobhair and between himself and Cian Mulligan kicked 11 points, Odhrán eight and Cian three.
Kieran Gillespie had a fine game at centre half-back and Dáire Ó Baoill and his cousin Naoise also had big games.
And Kevin Cassidy was very effective at full-forward.
Naomh Conaill were disappointing with the exception of Leo McLoone and Kieran Gallagher. Anthony Thompson, who is always a key man, never got into the game and the Brick Molloy wasn’t his usual self up front. In fairness to the Brick he was starved of possession.
The one Naomh Conaill man that did impress me was John O’Malley when he came on . He made an impact and did cause problems for the Gaoth Dobhair defence.
But overall Gaoth Dobhair were the better team. They were the better team all year and not only have they won the championship, they also won the league. They are good and worthy champions and we wish them well in Ulster.
Finally, congratulations to Pettigo on winning the Junior B championship with their replay win over Red Hugh’s. It is their first championship win since 1953.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.