Saturday 17 March 2018

McLoone inspires dramatic success for Naomh Conaill

Naomh Conaill 0-11 St Eunan's 0-10

Dermot Molloy drilled over a late point that prised St Eunan’s fingers, slowly and surely off the trophy
Dermot Molloy drilled over a late point that prised St Eunan’s fingers, slowly and surely off the trophy Newsdesk Newsdesk

Fifty years to the day after his father lost the county decider, Leo McLoone inspired Naomh Conaill to their third Donegal title.

McLoone left Ballybofey clutching both the Dr Maguire Cup and the man of the match award after the Glenties team clung on to defeat holders and favourites St Eunan's.

In 1965, Glenties lost to St Joseph's, with Leo McLoone Snr as captain.

Yesterday, 'wee Leo' provided the inspiration in an eventful second half.

A sending off and a disallowed goal that might have been their downfall proved to be the sparks that fired Naomh Conaill to glory.

Dermot Molloy, Johnny McLoone and Aaron Thompson drilled over the late points that prised St Eunan's fingers, slowly and surely off the trophy.

St Eunan's had led 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time and the boat looked to have set sail away from Naomh Conaill's harbour in a bizarre seven-minute spell that saw the Glenties team lose a man and a goal.

Substitute Eoghan McGettigan (17) was sent off in what was surely record time, while McLoone was stunned when he drilled to the net only for referee Andrew Mullin to call the play back and a free award from which Dermot Molloy pointed their first score of the second half.

McLoone bustled his way past Sean Hensey and slammed the ball beyond John Paul Clarke but Mullin, who had signalled the advantage, called the play back.

Molloy pointed, but there was no doubt Naomh Conaill felt aggrieved - particularly since they were down to 14 by that stage.

With the red mist falling, it was unclear as to what exactly happened in the melee that ensued as McGettigan entered the play in the 39th minute, but the officials clearly pinned the county minor as the culprit.

It would have been unjust were those incidents to have denied Naomh Conaill and Martin Regan's team made sure they weren't heading home cursing their luck.

The free by Molloy was their first score of the second half, 16 minutes in, and they drew level through a McLoone free before Molloy put them in front after taking a ball from the excellent substitute Ethan O'Donnell.

Caolan Ward carried the can for St Eunan's in the second half and he levelled matters for the sixth time, but the Naomh Conaill dander was up and that trio of late scores secured a heroic victory.

St Eunan's had held sway early on with Kevin Rafferty and Rory Kavanagh on top at midfield, while Eamonn Doherty's 13th-minute bullet crashed off the crossbar.

Scorers - Naomh Conaill: D Molloy 0-3 (2f), B McDyer 0-2, J O'Malley, C Thompson, L McLoone (f), A Thompson, E Waide, J McLoone 0-1 each. St Eunan's: R Carr (2f), C Dunne (2f) 0-3 each, L McMonagle 0-2, C Ward, K Rafferty 0-1 each.

Naomh Conaill - S McGrath; A Thompson, AJ Gallagher, K McGettigan; M Boyle, A Thompson, E Waide; L McLoone, C Thompson; E Doherty, D Molloy, D Gallagher; J O'Malley, L Thompson, B McDyer. Subs: J McLoone for O'Malley (38), E McGettigan for Gallagher (38), S Corcoran for Doherty (47), E O'Donnell for McDyer (52), C Ellis for Boyle (55), J Bonner for L.Thompson (60).

St Eunan's - JP Clarke; E Doherty, C Ward, C Parke; Conor Morrison, P Devine, S Hensey; J Haran, R Kavanagh; S McVeigh, K Rafferty, C Gibbons; C Dunne, R Carr, L McMonagle. Subs: M McGowan for Conor Morrison (44), Cillian Morrison for Gibbons (50), Gibbons for Cillian Morrison (BC, 52), N O'Donnell for Haran (58).

Ref - A Mullin (Killybegs).

Irish Independent

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