GAOTH Dobhair and Naomh Conaill will battle it out tomorrow (Saturday) for the right to play Kilcar in this year’s Michael Murphy Sports & Leisure Donegal Senior Football Championship Final.
A semi-final has been a long time coming for Gaoth Dobhair, who have been missing from the final four for the past eleven years.
The Magheragallon men are joint-top with St Eunan’s in the Donegal SFC roll-of-honour with 14 triumphs, but they have flattered to deceive over the last decade.
However, this year they have impressed, and Odhrán MacNiallais’ return from New York gives them added firepower.
“We’ve been waiting a long time to get back to the semi-final,” said the Gaoth Dobhair manager, Mervyn O’Donnell, who was sweating on the fitness of Odhran McFadden-Ferry after he was taken to NowDoc on Tuesday with an injured finger.
“We were waiting a long time just to get out of our group, and I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to finally manage it this year.
“The ‘Eunan’s game was massive for us, and the boys performed well. We’re now left in the top three teams in the county and that’s a good feeling.
“We feel we’re going well, but we’re still a young team. A lot of the lads are Under 21, and some of them are only 18 or 19.
“You have that bit of experience with the McGees (Eamon, Neil, and Peter), and we have Odhrán back in the mix this week too.”
The majority of the Gaoth Dobhair players will be stepping into the unknown this week, but the same cannot be said for Naomh Conaill.
They have been frequent visitors to the semi-finals in recent times, but the 2015 champions performed poorly in last year’s meeting with Kilcar.
The Glenties men lost that by 5-10 to 1-11 and they will be keen to banish a few demons this Saturday in MacCumhaill Park.
“I think this is our fourth semi-final in four years, so it’s familiar territory for us at this stage,” said Naomh Conaill manager, Martin Regan.
“Obviously we won in 2015, but we’ve actually lost two of the three semi-finals, and we don’t want that to become three from four.
“We want to be back in the final and that’s the aim this week.”
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THIS Sunday's Paddy McLarnon Cup Final will signal the end of one of Gaoth Dobhair's best ever underage sides.