Naomh Conaill defeat Clontibret to reach Ulster decider
AIB Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
NAOMH CONAILL 0-12 CLONTIBRET 0-9
By Michael Devlin at Healy Park
Naomh Conaill will contest their second ever Ulster SFC final after overcoming Clontibret by three points at a frosty Healy Park this evening.
The Donegal champions' performance was like a thermal remedy in the biting cold Omagh air, with Eoghan McGettigan and Ciaran Thompson landing some sumptuous points as they led the game from the fourth minute onwards.
Clontibret, conquerors of Scotstown and Crossmaglen before this evening's semi-final, were ultimately disappointing on the night, with Conor McManus their only starting forward to score, and just one of his six point tally coming from open play.
For the first 20 minutes, Naomh Conaill looked supercharged. Aside from Clontibret’s forward advance in the fourth minute that yielded McManus' sole point from play, the Donegal side were in full control, ravenous without possession and direct with it.
Naomh Conaill almost had the ball in the net in the first 60 seconds when Brendan McDyer bore a hole through the Clontibret defence only to drag his effort wide. But it was a sign of what was to follow for the opening quarter as the Glenties men persistently pressed forward to open up a 0-6 to 0-1 lead.
McGettigan kicked his side’s first three scores, two from placed balls, before McDyer struck a sweet point off his right foot in the 12th minute. The score of the half then came from corner back Kevin McGettigan, who found enough room to have a go from the left wing after a precise Naomh Conaill build-up.
At midfield, Ciaran Thompson and Leo McLoone were dictating the fare, and it was the latter who slalomed through to clip over his side’s sixth score in the 17th minute.
Clontibret meanwhile had not got moving but managed to earn two scorable frees, with McManus obliging both times. Another McGettigan free just before the break put the score at 0-7 to 0-3 to Naomh Conaill at halftime.
Both teams returned out to the bitter cold for the second half, and it was skipper Ciaran Thompson who registered the opening score with a beauty of a point from the left side.
McManus followed with two more frees either side of a hard-earned point from midfielder Francis Hughes, and by the 41st minute the gap was down to two.
The classy Thompson though would respond with another sensational point, a booming free off the outside of his left that restored the margin to three.
Clontibret were trying to make inroads but the Naomh Conaill defence had McManus and Vinnie Corey under lock and key, and at the other end Eoghan McGettigan slotted over his fifth of the night to move Glenties into double figures, 0-10 to 0-6, by the 46th minute.
Dessie Mone ventured up the field to float an effort over the bar, but again the Naomh Conaill lead was topped up again with McGettigan and Thompson accurate from frees as the game entered its final ten minutes.
Despite another McManus free, his final score of the game, and a point from substitute Darragh Hughes didn't, a late surge was never going to come from the Monaghan men, and Naomh Chonaill saw out the final few minutes with the same command they'd showcased all night.
Scorers for Naomh Conaill: Eoghan McGettigan 0-6 (4f), Ciaran Thompson 0-3 (1f), Kevin McGettigan 0-1, Leo McLoone 0-1, Brendan McDyer 0-1.
Scorers for Clontibret: Conor McManus 0-6 (5f), Francis Hughes 0-1, Dessie Mone 0-1, Darragh Hughes 0-1.
NAOMH CONAILL: Stephen McGrath; Ulstan Doherty, AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan; Ethan O’Donnell, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson (c), Leo McLoone; Brendan McDyer, Eoghan McGettigan, Eunan Doherty; Jeaic McKelvey, Charles McGuinness, Marty Boyle.
SUBS: Kieran Gallagher for AJ Gallagher (BC 24), Dermot Molloy for B. McDyer (52), Stephen Molloy for (54), Dara Gallagher for Eunan Doherty (61).
CLONTIBRET: Darren McDonnell; Conor Doyle, Conor Boyle, Liam Savage; Jack Gormley, Dessie Mone, Colum Greenan; Francis Hughes, Killian Lavelle; David Savage, Michael P O’Dowd, Brian Greenan (c); Pauric Boyle, Vincent Corey, Conor McManus.
SUBS: Ryan McGuigan for David Savage (23), Dean McDonnell for R. McGuigan (53), Kieran Greenan for Pauric Boyle (54), Darragh Hughes for Francis Hughes (60).
REFEREE: Noel Mooney (Cavan)