McLoone inspires Naomh Conaill to Donegal title

Glenties side come from behind to reclaim a title they last won five years ago

Naomh Conaill 0-11 St Eunan’s 0-10

A magnificent second half display from Naomh Conaill of Glenties, who played the last 20 minutes with 14 men, saw them lift the Donegal senior title in MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey.

Behind by a point at the break, 0-7 to 0-6, they were reduced to 14 men on 40 minutes when 17-year-old Eoghan McGettigan, who had only just been introduced, was red carded after a melee broke out.

At that stage St Eunan's had widened the gap to 0-8 to 0-6 with a Conall Dunne free, but from there to the end Naomh Conaill got a firm grip on the game thanks to a wonderful display from man-of-the-match and captain, Leo McLoone.


Indeed, McLoone was denied what looked a great goal minutes later as he broke through to fire a piledriver to the net but play was pulled back as a free had been awarded.

They did get a point, though, from Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy to narrow the gap and it seemed they were on a mission from there on.

McLoone used his strength to win and point a free to level matters on 49 minutes and after a mistake by Eamonn O'Donnell, Dermot Molloy pushed Naomh Conaill ahead by a point with seven minutes left.

St Eunan's got back on level terms at 0-9 each thanks to Caolan Ward, but two points in quick succession from Johnny McLoone and cornerback Aaron Thompson was enough for them to secure the win.

St Eunan’s went into the game as defending champions as slight favourites, but there was a never-say-die attitude in the Naomh Conaill side that proved the difference in the end.

And it was a special day for the four Thompson brothers, who became the third set of four brothers to win a Donegal senior championship medals.

The sides were level on four occasions in the first half with Naomh Conall taking a two point lead on 15 minutes but then St Eunan’s hit four in-a-row to go two up.

But Naomh Conaill showed great fighting spirit as they levelled again only for Conall Dunne to hit the final point of the half.

But the main action of this game was reserved for the second half and in county star Leo McLoone, Naomh Conaill had a matchwinner.

They will now have home advantage when they meet Tyrone champions, Trillick in the first round of the Ulster championship in two weeks time.

Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; Aaron Thompson (0-01), AJ Gallagher, K McGettigan; M Boyle, Anthony Thompson, E Waide (0-01); L McLoone (0-01,f), C Thompson (0-01); E Doherty, D Molloy (0-03,2f), D Gallagher; J O'Malley (0-01), B McDyer (0-02), L Thompson. Subs., J McLoone (0-01) for O'Malley, E McGettigan for D Gallagher, both 38; S Corcoran for E Doherty 47; E O'Donnell for McDyer 51; J Bonner for L Thompson 59.

St Eunan's: J P Clarke; C Parke, S Hensey, P Devine; C Ward (0-01), E Doherty, Conor Morrison; K Rafferty (0-01), R Kavanagh; C Gibbons, C Dunne (0-03,2f), S McVeigh; R Carr (0-03,2f), J Haran, L McMonagle (0-02). Subs., M McGowan for Conor Morrison 43; Cillian Morrison for Gibbons 50; C Gibbons for Cillian Morrison 53; N O'Donnell for Haran 57.

Referee: A Mullin (Killybegs).