Ciaran Thompson goes on to make the difference as Shane O'Donnell very, very hard-done by in Donegal final 3 months ago

Ciaran Thompson goes on to make the difference as Shane O'Donnell very, very hard-done by in Donegal final

Naomh Conaill 1-9 St Eunan's 2-5

Ciaran Thompson got his yellow card and, as soon as the referee put it back in its place you just knew that, standing there alongside him, Shane O'Donnell was done for.

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He looked like he knew it himself too.

Mark Dorrian went back to writing into his note-book and, as O'Donnell watched on with dread, and as time seemed to stand still around him, it suddenly became very, very clear what was about to happen next.

But that doesn't mean it was right.

Because, effectively, on county final day of all days, the St Eunan's centre forward was sent off for nothing more than a harmless push.

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His Donegal team-mate Ciaran Thompson made a meal out of it and from the minute he went down holding his face, that was that. In actual fact, as he blind-sided a St Eunan's attacker with a high shoulder, Thompson was the one who kicked off this whole melee and that's surely going to sicken the St Eunan's club that, as an indiscretion, Thompson's was more serious than O'Donnell's.

The referee did consult with his umpires and linesmen, it must be said, and did deliberate over his decision but what we have to remember is that they're human too. And this was a case of human error.

But when they think about it, that will definitely sting the Letterkenny side especially when you consider that, as the game wore on, Thompson was the difference between the teams. He kicked four booming scores, including the winner, with that trusted left peg of his in the second half.

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And while Donegal football is hardly known for its thrillers, this turned into a very entertaining final indeed as Eunans threw the kitchen sink at Naomh Conaill to try claw their way back into the game. Conor O'Donnell was sensational at centre back for them, and he gave their vocal support plenty to shout about.

All the while, despite showing the grit and defiance that made them 2021 county champions, Eunans clearly missed the influence of the industrious and energetic O'Donnell. They did level things up with a Kevin Kealy goal with ten minutes to play but that was as good as it got, and, as luck would have it, Thompson was the man that finished them off.

Credit must also go to Naomh Conaill though. This is their 4th Donegal SFC in eight years and, on the biggest day, they showed once again that they have the craft and the character to beat the rest.

After the game, Shane O'Donnell's brother Niall criticised the linesman for his role in the decision.

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"Ye give up so much & train all year round for a sideline official to go and ruin the biggest day of the year. Fair play Val Murray, some people just love the spotlight. Well now you have it," he tweeted.