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18th Nov 2018

Gaoth Dobhair’s hat-trick hero puts body on the line and Neil McGee couldn’t have been prouder

Niall McIntyre

There are heroes and then there’s Daire Ó Baoill.

Gaoth Dobhair were underdogs in Omagh but they didn’t play like underdogs. They were without their most effective player, their leader and their centre back Kieran Gillespie, but they played their Ulster semi-final against Crossmaglen in a way that would have made him proud.

In a way that would have made any Gaelic football person proud. They played it the way football is supposed to be played and they played Crossmaglen off Healy Park.

Goals win games and Gaoth Dobhair went for the jugular early on. They had three rammed down Crossmaglen’s throats by the time the clock had struck 24 and their midfielder Daire Ó Baoill – a Donegal senior panellist – he was wheeling away with a wide open grin after scoring each one of them.

That’s Daire Ó Baoill to you, not Dara O’Boyle.

Joe Brolly won’t make that mistake again.

His first came after nine minutes. His second came after 12. He tucked both of them beautifully into the same right corner after he’d left Cross men for absolute dust running from deep.

Gaoth Dobhair won a penalty on 24 minutes when the jinky Cian Mulligan was cynically fouled and the right man stood over the spot kick. Ó Baoill buried it, this time to the goalie’s other side and Gaoth Dobhair were in dream land.

Crossmaglen did respond. That man Rian O’Neill kicked points from another world for them but he was fighting a lone battle on a day the whole of Gaoth Dobhair were inspired.

Daire Ó Baoill was having a spiritual awakening.

He must have flattened every blade of grass within the four white lines in his hour out there and while his hatrick won this game, his block when Cross were rallying was just as crucial.

Body on the line.

Neil McGee just patted him on the back.

Gaoth Dobhair were ag na rásaí today.

Odhran Mac Niallais showed yet again that he has eyes on the back of his head and bazookas in his boots. He kicked points from all angles, set up others with delicious passes in a display so good that it’s the reason youngsters want to pick up gaelic footballs in the first place.

Niall Friel leads from centre back, Kevin Cassidy scores every time they need him and Naoise O Baoill would make the energiser bunny look unfit.

With all of that and the nippy Eamonn Ó Colm, the teak tough Gary McFadden and the steely Eamon McGee to boot, Gaoth Dobhair have some team and they’ll take some stopping in the Ulster final.

Life is too short not to watch Gaoth Dobhair playing football.

What did Joe Brolly make of all that?

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