Donegal SFC final – Naomh Conaill have learnt lessons

Donegal Senior Football Championship final replay

Gaoth Dobhair v Naomh Conaill

Sunday, MacCumhaill Park, 3pm

NAOMH Conaill have given themselves a stern talking to after missing their chance to beat the Donegal and Ulster champions last weekend.

The Glenties men could have beaten Mervyn O’Donnell’s Gaoth Dobhair last weekend, but things didn’t fall their way, and now they must try and beat them in a replay.

Manager Martin Regan there was little to be happy about, as the job had not been finished.

“I wouldn’t say there was anything we were overly pleased with.

“We knew they would work hard and dig deep, and they gave it everything they had, but we knew that would happen.

“They never lie down and they are a committed bunch. They are real warriors.

“We got the draw and there would be aspects of it that we would be disappointed with, but there are also aspects that went well. So it’s just a matter of dusting ourselves down and going again next week.”

The game was a cagey affair, as both teams were cautious in their play.

Naomh Conaill were marginally the better side in the first half, and led by a point at half time.

For a long period in the second half Gaoth Dobhair took control, but Glenties’ Eoghan McGettigan and Ciaran Thompson put them back level. For the final minutes neither side could get ahead and the game finished level 0-8 to 0-8.

Regan pointed out that the result had not been predicted by the pundits.

“Look we were given no chance today, we were completely written off,” said Regan.

“Maybe we left it behind us today and maybe that was our chance, and Gaoth Dobhair will go in again next week as hot favourites.

“But look we know what our side are capable of, and we see them in training.

“We weren’t a bit surprised to be with them. We’ll dust ourselves down and get ready for next week.”

Naomh Conaill had suffered two defeats in successive county finals, and were determined that it wouldn’t happen again.

However, they made a nervous start and struggled to even get out of their own half early on.

Regan said: “We started the game very poorly and we were lucky to be only two points down because they had a goal chance and two or three chances for points as well.

“So we kind of weathered a serious storm after the first five or ten minutes, but once we settled into the game, we were much better and more composed and looked more comfortable with what we were doing.”

The midfield battle was particularly key, with Ciaran Thompson picking up Odhrán Mac Niallais on kick-outs, before Eoin Waide would take the play-maker in open play.

“Ciaran is very good in the air as is Odhrán. Odhrán won a few huge kick-outs for them so I don’t think we dominated their kick-out far from it.

“It was a good battle. They are all midfielders – Leo (McLoone), Eamon McGee, Odhrán Mac Niallais, and Ciaran Thompson – they are all county standard midfielders.

“It was always going to be a big battle out there, and it probably broke 50/50.

“We struggled with our own kickout early on and Gaoth Dobhair had a serious press on us, and they had serious joy out of it.

“We were hanging on for ten minutes so that is a huge area where we need to work on.”

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