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Naomh Conaill manager Paddy Campbell content with progress of under-strength team

Michael McGinley, St Michaels in possession against AJ Gallagher and Ethan O'Donnell of Naomh Conaill.

Michael McGinley, St Michaels in possession against AJ Gallagher and Ethan O’Donnell of Naomh Conaill. Photo: Donna El Assaad

BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN GLENTIES

PADDY Campbell tucked himself into the zipped-up coat and away from the elements as he assessed a second win in two games for his under-strength Naomh Conaill on Sunday.

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A five-point win over St Michael’s gives his side maximum points from their opening two games.

The former Donegal full-back is content with the start made by his team.

Sunday’s competitors are having contrasting starts – as they had last year when Naomh Conaill’s engine spluttered as St Michael’s were the early-season form setters.

“It’s a long year,” Campbell said after the 0-10 to 0-5 win.

“No team cares an awful lot about the League. I think, so long as you aren’t relegated you’ll be happy enough. Most teams will be looking ahead to August time fort the start of the Championship.

“So long as you aren’t in the frying pan at the end it’s grand – but there’s a long way to go, sixteen games, before the League is run off yet.

“It’s good to get a win. We had a bad start to the League last year. We knew where we went wrong last year and we’re aiming to put it right now. We have improved a lot, I think.

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“It’s nice to win because it does take the pressure off.”

Naomh Conaill have been one of Donegal’s leading sides at underage level in recent years, appearing in eight Under-21 finals in a row.

Their depth was crucial here, with Campbell not only without Donegal seniors Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson, Dermot Molloy and Leon Thompson, but with Eunan Doherty, Stephen McGrath, Marty Boyle, Johnny McLoone and Daragh Gallagher unable to start, although the latter duo did come in as subs.

The absentees allowed Campbell to test his panel, with exciting Donegal minor Ethan O’Donnell making an impressive contribution to proceedings.

Campbell said: “Ethan was top class in his first game for the club in the League. He was outstanding. It’s great to see players like that breaking through.

“We were missing nine players, most of them starters too, but it showed there the strength that we have in the panel. It’s showing the amount of work that has been done here for the last five to ten years with the players we have coming through here in Glenties.

“Confidence is a very important thing. It’s nice to start with two wins, but we have two very difficult games next weekend: We have Malin at home on Friday and then Kilcar away on Sunday.

“Hopefully we will have some of those players back who were missing today.

“It’s a big weekend in the League next weekend. You get no handy games in this League at all.”

Sunday’s game between two sides missing their marquee names told him as much, with St Michael’s making a game of it in the second half.

Campbell was delighted as his side dug deep.

He said: “The boys worked hard and did the business.

“It was hard work, a real game of two halves. St Michael’s really worked hard in the second half and it was a great battle. The three-point lead at half-time was massive for us. It was probably lucky that we were at home today – that was worth maybe two or three of the scores to us.”

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