03 November 2019 18:37
Naomh Conaill are through to the Ulster Club Senior Football Championship after they defeat Castlerahan 1-11 to 0-11. Naomh Conaill started the brightest and led 0-4 to no score after 15 minutes but Castlerahan fought back and closed the gap to two before Ciaran Thompson netted for the Glenties men to give them a 1-05 to 0-05 lead at half time. With just 15 minutes remaining Naomh Conaill led 1-10 to 0-06 but Castlerahan rallied and had five unanswered scores to put just two points between the sides. Deep into injury time Anthony Thompson fired over his third point of the game to seal Naomh Conaill's place in the semi-finals. Castlerahan were beaten in Ulster.
Naomh Conaill 1-11 The good times kept on rolling for newly-crowned Donegal champions Naomh Conaill this afternoon at a chilly Kingspan Breffni as they held Cavan champions Castlerahan at bay to advance to the Ulster semi-final. There was a school of thought which suggested that the Breffni side were at a big advantage given Naomh Conaill's hectic recent schedule but Martin Regan's charges looked a few levels above their Cavan counterparts here. Before a crowd of 2,753, Naomh Conaill led from pillar to post. At half-time, Ciaran Thompson's 25th minute goal was all that separated the teams as the Donegal champions took a 1-5 to 0-5 lead in with them at the break. Castlerahan, in their second successive year in the competition, had a three-week break prior to this match and certainly were nowhere near as sharp as Naomh Conaill in the opening quarter.
The Cavan side did not open their account until the 19th minute, by which stages Naomh Conaill had already racked up four points. Crucially, the Donegal side were also dominant on kick-outs – confident in the fielding abilities of Ciaran Thompson and Leo McLoone in particular, they were happy to bypass Castlerahan's press on their own kick-outs while they forced Donal Keogan's men to go long at the other end. The tone was set early on when Castlerahan – who kicked eight first-half wides – held possession for 80 seconds while not really threatening before being turned over and opened up. That first Naomh Conaill counter resulted in a wide but it served as a warning of what was to come for the Cavanmen. Brendan McDyer opened the scoring and then turned provider for Kieran Gallagher as Naomh Conaill eased into a two-point lead, which they doubled following further scores from the excellent Ciaran Thompson (45) and Charles McGuinness (a 45-metre free). Castlerahan finally got off the mark when midfielder Cormac Daly booted over the first of his eye-catching five points from play and 30 seconds later, he set Brian Ennis up for another. But Naomh Conaill kept up the pressure and a 40-metre point from Anthony Thompson – one of four All-Ireland SFC medallists on the Naomh Conaill side – put three between them before his brother Ciaran landed the crucial score. He played a one-two with McGuinness (nephew of Jim's) and tucked away stylishly under goalkeeper Jamie Leahy to put six between them five minutes before the break. Castlerahan responded well with three points in succession from Stephen Cooney, Karl Cosgrove and Daly but they would spurn three good goal chances in this period too as they went in at the interval three in arrears. Naomh Conaill owned the next 11 minutes, out-scoring their opponents 0-5 to 0-1 with points from both Thompsons and Jeaic McKelvey, with Daly's score all Castlerahan could muster in response. The Cavan champions seemed out of ideas but the introduction of former county player Sean Brady provided a spark entering the final quarter. Brady kicked a good point to cut the gap to seven and further scores from Ronan Flanagan and the outstanding Cosgrove made it a four-point game approaching the home stretch. Castlerahan exerted huge pressure in the closing stages but will rue poor decision-making, typified by Ronan Flanagan's ill-advised attempt to engineer a goal when a point looked the easy option in the 57th minute. A Cosgrove free and another from Daly set up a frantic finale but Castlerahan were down to 14 men after sub Gavin Daly picked up a straight red card and Naomh Conaill, composed and calm, showed their quality in picking off the insurance point on the break from the excellent Anthony Thompson deep in injury time. The Donegal men will now meet Clontibret in the Ulster SFC semi-final. Castlerahan: Jamie Leahy, Stephen Cooney (0-1), Killian McEnroe, Enda O'Connell, Shane O'Reilly, Oisin Kiernan, Fergal Reilly, Pauric Smith, Cormac Daly (0-5), Karl Cosgrove (0-3, 1f), Brian Ennis (0-1), Paul Smith, Oisin O'Connell, Ronan Flanagan (0-1), Enda Flanagan Subs: Cian Mackey for O'Reilly (32 mins), Gavin Daly for McEnroe (41), Sean Brady (0-1) for Ennis (44), Fergal Flanagan for Pauric Smith (53) Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath, Ultan Doherty, AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan, Ethan O'Donnell, Anthony Thompson (0-3), Eoin Waide, Ciaran Thompson (0-3, 1f, 45), Leo McLoone, Brendan McDyer (0-1), Marty Boyle, Eunan Doherty, Jeaic McKelvey (0-1), Charles McGuinness (0-2, 1f), Kieran Gallagher (0-1) Subs: Dermot Molloy (0-1) for McGuinness (37 mins), Stephen Molloy for Boyle (43), Nathan Byrne for Ethan O'Donnell (49), John O'Malley for McDyer (52), Hughie Gallagher for Waide (56), Marty Boyle for K Gallagher (60) TRILLICK are hoping to reach their second Ulster Senior semi-final in five years when they make the short trip to Brewster Park to face Derrygonnelly Harps this afternoon. The St Macartan's club followed their 2015 county triumph with a win over Naomh Conaill and a narrow defeat to Scotstown. Omagh, in 2014, were the last Red Hand side to reach the provincial final while it's 17 years since a Tyrone club actually lifted the Seamus McFerran Cup with Errigal Ciaran triumphing in 2002. Back in 1933, the Ulster Council rejected a claim of jurisdiction from Fermanagh over the club and instead ruled that Tyrone had that right. Such tidbits add extra subplots to today's clash but Trillick coach Conor Daly has played down any talk of it being a derby fixture. "Kilskeery is a unique parish with Trillick and Coa in it with the two different clubs there. Trillick will be hoping to build on that promising trip into Ulster five years ago. Their first Ulster Club tie in 29 years saw them defeat Naomh Conaill 2-9 to 1-11 with Niall Gormley and That set up a semi-final meeting with an experienced Scotstown outfit and although they again hit two goals, Gormley and Daniel McDonnell on target, they lost out by two points. "I wouldn't say it feels any different, it's just as exciting," Daly said of the build-up this time around. "That 2015 season, it had been a long time since Trillick had won the championship and the novelty factor was about, maybe a giddiness. "They had a good run, they went down and beat a very good Donegal team in Ballybofey and then they were very unlucky against Scotstown. We're really looking forward to it again this year, we're on a great run of form and we beat some serious teams in Tyrone."