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Kevin Cassidy, Gaoth Dobhair, and Anthony Thompson, Naomh Conaill, during the Donegal SFC Final.
Kevin Cassidy, Gaoth Dobhair, and Anthony Thompson, Naomh Conaill, during the Donegal SFC Final.

Donegal SFC Final: Tight Donegal decider finishes level

Donegal SFC Final

Gaoth Dobhair 0-8 Naomh Conaill 0-8

By Chris McNulty in Ballybofey

Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill have to do it all again after the Donegal SFC final ended all square

A tense and low-scoring final ended in stalemate in front of 4,800 at Sean MacCumhaill Park and the replay will take place next Sunday afternoon.

Naomh Conaill recovered from a 23-minute scoreless spell in the second half to get level thanks to Ciaran Thompson’s ’45 three minutes from the end.

Naomh Conaill might have sneaked the win, but John O’Malley and Dermot Molloy skewed injury time efforts wide.

It took only eight minutes for Gaoth Dobhair, the defending Ulster champions, to carve open the Naomh Conaill rearguard, but goalkeeper Stephen McGrath saved well from Odhrán McFadden-Ferry, who cut in from the left after a purposeful move by the champions.

Cian Mulligan slammed over from the loose ball to add to Eamonn Collum’s earlier free.

Daire Ó Baoill looked as if he had opened up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead in the 17th minute, but was blown for over-carrying just as he tucked over, after evading Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí and Ethan O’Donnell.

Moments later, Eoghan McGettigan - who was drafted into the Donegal senior panel this summer - converted his second free of the day to level things up.

Naomh Conaill led for the first time in the 25th minute when veteran Brendan McDyer clipped over, but it was short-lived as Gaoth Dobhair captain Niall Friel arrowed between the sticks almost immediately.

Ethan O’Donnell’s strong surge drew a foul and McGettigan’s free gave Naomh Conaill - who had really grown into the encounter - a 0-5 to 0-4 lead.

With just 15 seconds gone in the second half, Charles McGuinness - a nephew of former Donegal manager Jim - put Naomh Conaill two ahead.

Gaoth Dobhair lost Donegal panelist Kieran Gillespie to injury at half-time, but they were in front when Neil McGee’s determination counted ten minutes after the re-start.

Collum might well have hit the bullseye after Naoise Ó Baoill’s speed and trickery carved Naomh Conaill open, but his chipped effort was off target.

Sub Gavin McBride gave Gaoth Dobhair a two-point advantage with 13 minutes remaining when he landed a monster score from distance, but it would be their last score.

Naomh Conaill’s first point in 23 minutes came via McGettigan and skipper Thompson evened things up with a sweetly-struck ’45.

Scorers for Naomh Conaill: E McGettigan 0-4f, C Thompson (45), B McDyer, J Mac Ceallabhuí, C McGuinness 0-1 each

Scorers for Gaoth Dobhair: N Friel, E Collum (2fs) 0-2 each, C Mulligan, O MacNiallais (f), N McGee, G McBride 0-1 each.

Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Ultan Doherty, AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan; Ethan O’Donnell, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson, Leo McLoone; Brendan McDyer, Eoghan McGettigan, Eunan Doherty; Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí, Charles McGuinness, Kieran Gallagher.

Subs: Nathan Byrne for McGuinness (43), Dermot Molloy for Gallagher (43), John O’Malley for McDyer (54).

Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Kieran Gillespie; Niall Friel, Dan McBride, Daire Ó Baoill; Michael Carroll, Eamon McGee; Odhrán McFadden-Ferry, Odhrán Mac Niallais, Naoise Ó Baoill; Cian Mulligan, Kevin Cassidy, Eamonn Collum.

Subs: Christopher McFadden for Gillespie (half-time), Seaghan Ferry for C.McFadden (36), Gavin McBride for Collum (43), Peter McGee for N.Ó Baoill (56), Ethan Harkin for McBride (black card, 62).

REFEREE: Enda McFeely (St Mary’s, Convoy).

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