Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Naomh Conaill avenged last year's Donegal SFC defeat to St Eunan's with a one-point win at MacCumhaill Park.
# Saints and Winners
Controversy as Naomh Conaill crowned Donegal kings against 14-man St Eunan's
Shane O’Donnell’s sending off was the major talking point after Naomh Conaill’s one-point win.

Naomh Conaill 1-9

St Eunan’s 2-5

NAOMH CONAILL RECLAIMED the Donegal SFC with the narrowest of wins over St Eunan’s, who pointed to the sending off of Shane O’Donnell as the turning point.

With St Eunan’s of Letterkenny having played with the wind in the first half and leading by two points, 1-3 to 0-4, there was a common bit of pushing and shoving with O’Donnell shoving Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí, who fell.

O’Donnell followed that up with a pat on Mac Ceallabhuí and, to the surprise of everyone in MacCumhaill Park, was sent off by referee Mark Dorrian.

St Eunan’s had won the Donegal SFC last year with a comprehensive 1-11 to 0-4 win over Naomh Conaill, a result that saw Rory Kavanagh catapulted to the frontrunners to replace Declan Bonner as county team manager.

The only goal of the first half came when Eoin McGeehin rounded Stephen McGrath having been played into space by Shane O’Donnell on 13 minutes. That put St Eunan’s 1-0 to 0-2 in front, although Naomh Conaill, who were up against a huge wind, were controlling most of the contest.

Brendan McDyer, at 35, scored two fine first-half points as his side stood off Shaun Patton’s kick-outs.

In the second half, there was again an air of trepidation and Naomh Conaill managed to get in front when Charlie McGuinness caught a raking Odhran Doherty diagonal and shot past Patton for a 1-5 to 1-3 Naomh Conaill advantage.

St Eunan’s were up against it in terms of numbers, on the scoreboard and in the elements, with Ciaran Thompson of Naomh Conaill developing into the game’s stand-out player. The Donegal midfielder edged his side into a three-point lead, 1-7 to 1-4, with 12 to play.

Fond of the possession game, St Eunan’s went long and got the benefit when Niall O’Donnell’s ball was initially spilled by McGeehin at full-forward, only for Kevin Kealy to react and stab in a goal to level it up, 2-5 to 1-8, on 50 minutes.

Now, it was anyone’s game, with, in retrospect, the Naomh Conaill answer to that setback perhaps the standout facet. Again it was Thompson they turned to; again it was Thompson who answered their prayers, with a brilliant 51st-minute score.

St Eunan’s were still in it and worked an opening when substitute Conor Morrison burst through and punched over to level it again with seven to play. Again, there was a hot potato moment. Thompson, with absolutely no hangup about having to take the mantle of responsibility, did it again to give his side a 58th-minute lead.

Then, it was to the trenches with St Eunan’s having the ball for over two minutes in the three allotted minutes of injury time and eventually, when someone had to, McVeigh was the one who had the go, but he was out of luck as the ball drifted wide.

St Eunan’s scorers: Eoin McGeehin 1-0; Kevin Kealey 1-0; Niall O’Donnell 0-2 (1f); Aaron Deeney 0-1; Sean McVeigh 0-1; Conor Morrison 0-1.

Naomh Conaill scorers: Charlie McGuinness 1-1; Ciaran Thompson 0-4 (3f); Brendan McDyer 0-2; Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí 0-1.

St Eunan’s: Shaun Patton; Conor Parke, Caolán Ward, Aaron Deeney; Darragh Mulgrew Conor O’Donnell Snr, Kieran Tobin; Sean McGettigan, Kevin Kealy; Ciaran Moore, Shane O’Donnell, Sean McVeigh; Padraig McGettigan, Niall O’Donnell, Eoin McGeehin.

Subs: Kieran Tobin for Park (half-time), Conor O’Donnell jnr for P McGettigan (41), Conor Morrison for Devine (43), Eoin Dowlin for S McGettigan (53)

Naomh Conaill: Sephen McGrath; Kevin McGettigan, AJ Gallagher, Jason Campbell; Ethan O’Donnell, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson, Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí; Brendan McDyer, Odhran Doherty, Eunan Doherty; John O’Malley, Charlie McGuinness, Keelan McGill.

Subs: Leo McLoone for O Malley (57), Marty Boyle and Dermot Molloy for O Doherty and McDyer (60+3).

Referee: Mark Dorrian (Gaeil Fhánada)

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel