Naomh Conaill topple Gaoth Dobhair to bag Donegal crown

An impressive Naomh Conaill always looked in control, building an eight point lead by the 40th minute.
An impressive Naomh Conaill always looked in control, building an eight point lead by the 40th minute.

Michael Murphy Sports & Leisure Donegal SFC final

Gaoth Dobhair 1-8 Naomh Conaill 1-16

The broad smile on the face of Donegal boss and Naomh Conaill legend Jim McGuinness at half-time said it all. 

He had just watched his club  and many of the players he has coached race into a 0-9 to 0-2 lead after a super-charged opening half that simply blew a nervous Gaoth Dobhair away. 

At the end McGuinness joined in the celebrations with a truly remarkable group of players who took their seventh county title and their fourth in five years – and his nephew Charles got the only goal of the game. 

Youthful Gaoth Dobhair never got to the pace of the game and were second-best in almost every department from the off. 

Rueful manager Ronan Mac Niallais summed it up perfectly when he said the “game was over after 10 minutes”.  

Naomh Conaill changed their tactics, deciding that attack was the best form of defence as they repeatedly ran at Gaoth Dobhair and showed savage pace on the break. 

They had 10 scorers in a scintillating display that simply crushed Gaoth Dobhair. 

A delighted McGuinness paid tribute to a team he guided to their first ever title in 2005 before he posed for a special family photograph with his nephew Charles. 

“I was trying to explain to my own children coming up the road what it means,” said the Donegal manager. 

“We spent our whole life trying to win one and now 18 years later we have seven county titles and we have competed in seven county finals in-a-row. 

“It is fairytale stuff really for a lot of the older generation and the younger ones don’t know any different. 

“Once we broke the ceiling in 2005 a lot of things can follow and confidence, structures and everybody wants to help and that is what the club has done”

McGuinness saluted the five senior citizens in the side, – Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson, Brendan McDyer, Eoin Waide and Marty Boyle all now have five county championship medals. 

“The younger players who have come in have fitted in and unbelievable credit to Martin Regan and his management team as well,” he said.

“I helped them out last year and my nephew Charlie is a young man who works hard at his game.” 

Naomh Conaill made a blistering start with the impressive Ethan O’Donnell sending Ciaran Thompson through on goal. 

Thompson was fouled and marksman John O’Malley tapped over the free which was brought forward for dissent. 

This was after just 17 seconds and was an early hint at what was to come. 

Gaoth Dobhair looked nervous as O’Malley quickly pointed a second free and six of his colleagues were to add points by the 20th minute. 

Jittery Gaoth Dobhair were unable to get their hands on the ball as Odhran Doherty struck an exquisite point with the outside of the boot. 

And then the elder statesmen stepped up with two lightning points as Anthony Thompson and McDyer in the space of 60 seconds. 

Any time Gaoth Dobhair got beyond Naomh Conaill’s 45, they were swallowed by a blue wall. 

Micheal Roarty eventually got Gaoth Dobhair off the mark in the 11th minute but it was quickly cancelled by a fine effort from Jeaic MacCeallbhuí, before Ciaran Thompson tacked on two points and Ultan Doherty added another to make it 0-9 to 0-1 as half-time beckoned. 

Daire O’Baoill gave the losers a brief glimmer of hope with a fine point. 

But they were nit by another blow when corner-forward Cian McEntee got a black card after a tackle on Ethan O’Donnell. 

Gaoth Dobhair started better after the resumption and Micheal Carroll pointed a free. 

But Naomh Conaill were merciless and Ciaran Thompson strode through and hammered over a point. 

McGuinness and the foraging MacCeallbhuí made it 0-12 to 0-4 by the 40th minute. 

Carroll and McGuinness then traded points before the Glenties full-forward found the net after an unselfish pass from Ethan O’Donnell. 

Gaoth Dobhair sub Fergal Delaney got a late goal but it hardly mattered as Naomh Conaill eased to victory. 

Disappointed Gaoth Dobhair manager Mac Niallais said “from the first minute, Naomh Conaill came out of the blocks at 100 mph and we didn’t. 

“It was one of those days when we did not show up and I don’t just don’t know what it was.”

Gaoth Dobhair: D Roberts: A Breathnach, N McGee, G McFadden; N Friel, S Ferry, M Roarty (0-1); D O’Baoill (0-1); D Mac Giolla Bríde; M Carroll (0-3, 0-1 free) O Mac Niallais, J O’Baoill; E Harkin (0-1 free) E McGee, C McEntee

Subs D McFadden for S Ferry (ht), K Gillespie (0-1) for C McEntee, C De Burca for M Roarty (50), N McBride (0-1) for J O’Baoill (50), F Delaney (1-0) for A Breathnach (54) 

Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; J Campbell, AJ Gallagher, U Doherty (0-1); K McGettigan, A Thompson (0-1), E O’Donnell; L McLoone, C Thompson (0-3); B McDyer (0-1), O Doherty (0-1), E Doherty (0-1);J MacCeallbhuí (0-2), C McGuinness (1-2), J O’Malley (0-3, 0-2 frees)

Subs E Waide for J Campbell (43), K McGill (0-1) for B McDyer (51), L Quinn for K McGettigan (48), S Corcoran for J O’Malley (59), M McDevitt for J MacCellbhuí (60) 

Referee E McFeely (Convoy)