Naomh Conaill and Kilcar clash the pick of Donegal SFC quarter-finals
Michael Murphy Sports & Leisure Donegal SFC quarter-finals
TOMORROW’S clash of Naomh Conaill and Kilcar is the stand-out tie in this weekend’s Donegal quarter-finals.
Champions Naomh Conaill start favourites due to a better bench. They also have a core group of players who continue to defy medical science – Leo McLoone, Eoin Waide, Marty Boyle, Brendan McDyer and Anthony Thompson continue to play key roles for Martin Regan’s men.
It is hard to believe that that quintet won a county title as far back as 2005, and McLoone in particular has been a revelation this year at midfield. They are rarely on the field at the same time and Regan’s management has been very astute in this respect.
Naomh Conaill have lots of younger power too in Ciaran Thompson, the three Dohertys from Fintown, as well as Jeaic MacCeallbhui and Ethan O’Donnell, who all have county experience.
Their only dropped point in the groups stages came in the draw against St Eunan’s.
Kilcar have a great championhip tradition, but have not taken a county title since 2017. They have some of the finest first-touch players in the county and Patrick McBrearty is their main scorer.
Ryan, Mark and Eoin McHugh remain huge figures, but they can also call on the likes of the powerful Ciaran McGinley, Matthew McClean, Stephen McBrearty and Brian O’Donnell for solid back up.
It is hard to disagree with the bookies but Kilcar will come with a mighty challenge and Naomh Conaill can be slow starters. They never panic when going behind, though, and can transition from defence to attack in a heartbeat, as can their opponents.
It could be very close, but Naomh Conaill’s slightly better bench could swing it.
It could also be close between Glenwilly and Sean Mac Cumhaill today. This is the clash of young Oisin Gallen – the David Clifford of Donegal – and Michael Murphy, the county’s greatest ever player. Much could hinge in how these outstanding figures perform.
Both teams are pretty youthful with loads of pace and Gallen has strong strike partners in Joel Bradley Walsh and the vastly experienced Marty O’Reilly.
But Glenswilly can also call on Gary McFadden, the promising Jack Gallagher and Caoimhin Marley.
A very close call, but Glenswilly’s power might just see them through.
Aodh Ruadh have a tall order against St Eunan’s, who have power and pace all over the park with Shane, Conor and Niall O’Donnell exceptional operators. They also have the vastly experienced keeper Shaun Patton and Caolan Ward, as well as Darragh Mulgrew and Conor O’Donnell jnr, to boost their efforts .
The Ballyshannon side are very strong in defence and have good score-getters in Philip Patton and Diarmaid Mcinerney. Eamon McGrath and Shane McGrath are huge players also and they are very well drilled.
Gaoth Dobhair look to have too much in the tank for Ardara as they meet in Cloughaneely on Sunday at 1.30pm.
The return of Daire O’Baoill is a huge boost for Gaoth Dobhair who are minus Micheal Carroll through injury.
Odhran MacNiallis and Eamonn and Neil McGee are huge figures while Ethan Harkin is accurate from frees.
Karl Josephy Molloy has been brilliant for Ardara while Conor Classon and Paddy McGrath are key figures too but it looks like Gaoth Dobhair will advance.
Glenswilly v Sean Mac Cumhaill (O’Donnell Park, 4pm)
St Eunan’s v Aodh Ruadh (Convoy, 7.30pm)
Gaoth Dobhair v Ardara (Cloughaneely, 3pm)
Naomh Conaill v Kilcar (Eamonn Byrne Memorial Park)