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Report: Naomh Conaill make it two from two with win over St Michael’s

Cathal Ellis, Naomh Conaill under pressure from Michael McGinley, St Michaels. Photo: Donna El Assaad

Cathal Ellis, Naomh Conaill under pressure from Michael McGinley, St Michaels. Photo: Donna El Assaad

Naomh Conaill 0-10 St Michael’s 0-05

Report by Chris McNulty at Davy Brennan Memorial Park

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NAOMH Conaill made it two wins from two with a useful win over St Michael’s at wintry Davy Brennan Memorial Park on Sunday.

Five points from John O’Malley made the difference as Paddy Campbell posted another two early League points to add to their opening day win over Termon.

Naomh Conaill made most of the dreadful conditions, but St Michael’s did make a game of it in the second half, coming back to within a point at one stage. But the Creeslough-Dunfanaghy brigade were scoreless for the last fifteen minutes and the dearth of firepower was evident in this ‘starred’ fixture.

Both teams lined out minus their Algarve-based county stars, Naomh Conaill without Leo McLoone, Dermot Molloy, Anthony Thompson and Leon Thompson with St Michael’s having to do without Colm McFadden, Christy Toye, Martin McElhinney and Antoin McFadden.

It was the visitors who drew first blood through Michael Cannon in the eighth minute. The centre-forward had been at the start of the move and it was he who finished off the move, after involvement from Stephen Doak and Daniel McLaughlin, to post his side into the lead.

It was an all-too rare cheer for the visitors as Naomh Conaill soon grew into the game.

A minute later, they were level as Ethan O’Donnell took receipt of a superb pass from Mark Gallagher and the Donegal minor steadied himself before steering over a neat left-footed point.

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This game had been due to be played a week earlier, but was postponed because of the involvement of O’Malley, Ciaran Brennan, Ciaran Thompson and Eunan Doherty  in Wednesday’s Ulster Under-21 final

Naomh Conaill edged in front when O’Malley tapped over a free, won by Hughie Gallagher as he was surrounded by a phalanx of St Michael’s shirts and Mark Gallagher splendidly doubled their lead.

By the 20th minute, they were three in front as O’Malley judged the conditions to perfection, angling over from a difficult position on the left-hand side of the 13-metre line.

It was certainly St Michael’s who felt the much deeper incision of the absentees and they could have been further behind only for Mark Gallagher slicing at a chance presented by AJ Gallagher’s clever knock-down towards the end of the first half.

A fine free from distance by Daniel McLaughlin registered the first St Michael’s point in almost 25 minutes, but Brendan McDyre drilled over at the other end to give the boys in blue a three-point lead, 0-5 to 0-2, at the end of the first chapter.

Naomh Conaill, as well as their county contingent – of whom under-21 player Doherty was unable to feature because of an injury – were also missing Marty Boyle and Daragh Gallagher from their side, although Gallagher came off the bench for the final seven minutes.

Tony Wilkinson rang the changes at the interval and in the third quarter St Michael’s were determined to make a real fist of things.

Sub Lee Martin Carr swung over a free, Michael Gallagher drove over after a determined move finished well by the powerful half-forward. When Stephen Coyle converted a free the margin was down to one and St Michael’s were back within striking distance.

However, it was Naomh Conaill who clearly possessed the aces.

O’Donnell curled over a beauty that debunked both his youthful years and the howling gale that swept around the Glenties venue. With Johnny McLoone and Gallagher entering the fray at crucial stages, Naomh Conaill could hold the upper hand. The absence of their big men was a telling blow for St Michael’s, who have now tasted two defeats on the spin having been pipped by St Eunan’s in their first encounter.

Another two O’Malley frees gave Naomh Conaill some assurance, with the pick of his bunch in the second half the fine point from play, cutting in at the narrowest of margins along the endline to sneak over a score.

Late in the day, Brennan’s punched effort secured the win by double scores, although St Michael’s battled hard, with sub Carr having a drilled effort at goal blocked. Naomh Conaill, though, were not in danger of letting go of their grip on this one.

With a plethora of first-choice names to welcome back into the ranks it’ll certainly go down as a productive day for Paddy Campbell’s side, who have maximum points. The opposite is true for St Michael’s, who have Kilcar and Gaoth Dobhair on a tough Easter weekend.

NAOMH CONAILL: Joe Kennedy; Stephen Mollioy, Johnny Bonner, Hughie Gallagher; Cathal Ellis, Ciaran Brennan (0-1), Eoin Waide; Ciaran Thompson, Martin Regan; Mark Gallagher (0-1), Brendan McDyre (0-1), John O’Malley (0-5, 4f); Ethan O’Donnell (0-2), AJ Gallagher, Seamus Corcoran. Subs: Johnny McLoone for M.Gallagher (35 mins), Daragh Gallagher for Corcoran (53 mins), James Doherty for O’Donnell (57 mins).

ST MICHAEL’S: Ciaran Gallagher; Brendan Rodden, Stephen Black, Stephen Doak; Andrew Kelly, Ciaran Gallagher, James Henry Alcorn; Michael McGinley, Lorcan McDaid; Daniel McLaughlin (0-1, 1f), Michael Cannon (0-1), Michael Gallagher (0-1); Martin Breslin, Brian McLaughlin, Ryan Langan. Subs: Liam Paul Ferry for Breslin (20 mins), Lee Martin Carr (0-1, 1f) for Kelly (half-time), Stephen Coyle (0-1, 1f) for B.McLaughlin (half-time).

REFEREE: Andrew Mullin (Killybegs)

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