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Naomh Conaill secure U16 title

NAOMH CONAILL 2-07
NAOMH COLMCILLE 1-09

Report by Chris McNulty
GOALS in either half from Ethan O’Donnell and Brian McLoone gave Naomh Conaill victory in Wednesday evening’s keenly-contested county U16 Division 2 final at O’Donnell Park.
O’Donnell struck late in the first-half to help his side into a five-point interval lead and McLoone’s second, five minutes into part two, ensured that they took the prize, with Michael Friel’s late, late goal for Naomh Colmcille coming too late for the Newtown side.
Naomh Colmcille threatened plenty in the second-half, but until Friel struck gold – with what proved to be the last kick of the game – could never come close enough.
Conor Grant had one powerful effort pushed round the post by Conal McGeehin, while he was inches away with a second chance seconds later.
Friel and Gavin McDaid also had late efforts saved, before Friel riffled to the back of the net. Briefly, the Naomh Colmcille support thought there was time, but the shrill of James McGinley’s final whistle meant it was agony and ecstasy all at once.
Three points from Ethan O’Donnell had the Glenties boys into a three-point lead as early as the eighth minute, while Naomh Colmcille ‘keeper Gary McDaid did well to deny Maitis McKelvey when he broke through for a shot on goal.
The tide was stemmed by Oisin Hassett, who scored Naomh Colmcille’s first point from play in the tenth minute.
McDaid was called into action again when he did well to turn around the post from Charles McGuinness, who latched onto O’Donnell’s probing ball, and there was just a point in it when Oran Hilley clipped over.
McGuinness and McKelvey combined to carve out Naomh Conaill’s next score, however, with the latter winning a free that was converted by the former to reaffirm a two-point lead for the boys in blue.
While Daniel Clarke did well to bring Naomh Colmcille back into it with a neat point, Naomh Conaill took charge with a goal and two points inside the final three minutes of the half.
Points from Brian McLoone and McGuinness (free) had them three ahead and with time almost at a close Naomh Conaill moved into a commanding position when McGuinness did the spadework with O’Donnell applying a neat, low finish past the helpless McDaid.
With the final kick of the half, Barry Gallagher swung over from 30 metres, but it was Naomh Conaill who had the advantage at the changeover, 1-6 to 0-4.
Just fifteen seconds into the second-half, Ryan Cole lifted the Naomh Colmcille hearts with a splendid score in a move that stemmed from the throw-in, but five minutes later they were rocked with the concession of a second goal. Again O’Donnell was pivotal to the score. It was from his surging run and pass that Brian McLoone got receipt of the pass. With McLoone in oceans of space after his man went in vain to block O’Donnell, McLoone riffled past McDaid from close range.
Frees from Daniel Clarke and Conor Grant kept Naomh Colmcille’s hopes alive, but in between times a score from McGuinness ensured that the two goals stood between the teams as the game entered its final quarter.
Naomh Colmcille saw two goal chances spurned with Conor Grant the unfortunate party on both occasions. First, the livewire number ten was denied by a fine save from McGeehin, before he watched a second attempt roll agonisingly wide of the mark, with the ‘keeper stranded.
Two points from sub Jason Quinn, one of them a free, brought Naomh Colmcille to within four points, and Friel finally broke the resistance, only for the final whistle to sound and deny them the chance to draw it.

NAOMH COLMCILLE: Gary McDaid, Stephen Gallagher, Michael Lynch, Owen Barr, Ryan Cole (0-1), Oisin Hassett (0-1), Michael Friel, Barry Gallagher (0-1), Dylan McLaughlin, Conor Grant (0-1, 1f), Conor Matthewson, Oran Hilley (0-1), Daniel Clarke (0-2, 1f). Subs: Jason Quinn (0-2, 1f) for McLaughlin; Gavin McDaid for Gallagher; Niall Monaghan for Hassett.

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NAOMH CONAILL: Conal McGeehin, Micheál Doherty, Mark Molloy, Gerard Doherty, Kevin McGettigan, David McKelvey, Conor Quinn, Ciaran Thompson, David Stanislawczyk, Matis McKelvey, Charles McGuinness (0-3, 2f), Brian McLoone (1-1), Ethan O’Donnell (1-3). Subs: Aaron Gallagher for McLoone; Paul Quinn for McGeehin; Reece McDyre for McLoone.

REFEREE: James McGinley (Milford).

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