McBrearty has dramatic equaliser ruled out as Naomh Conaill win Donegal grudge game 1 month ago

McBrearty has dramatic equaliser ruled out as Naomh Conaill win Donegal grudge game

Naomh Conaill 0-11 Kilcar 0-8

It was wet, it was windy and after an hour of cagey football in O'Donnell Park, Letterkenny, it all exploded into life for a finish.

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That was when, with the game seemingly beyond their grasp, Kilcar threw the kitchen sink at Naomh Conaill and almost came away with a miracle. It was hit-and-hope stuff at that stage and when, deep into injury time, Paddy McBrearty punched an inviting Micheal Hegarty free-kick into the net, the Kilcar boys must have been pinching themselves.

The Naomh Conaill lads, on the other hand, must have been thinking daylight robbery but with hearts in mouths and the whole thing going wild, credit must be given to the referee Enda McFeely and his team of umpires for sticking to their guns.

They instantly called square ball and refused to buckle when the pressure came. With the benefit of replays, the call was vindicated as, in breach of the rule which says that players can't enter the square before the ball does in the event of a free-kick, Paddy McBrearty was culpable if only marginally so.

Either way, it marked an exciting conclusion to a semi-final that, for the most part, was more of a slug-fest. Kilcar made the brighter start to the grudge game, with Stephen McBrearty settling his side into things with a pair of tremendous scores early on. They had the wind and they had a purple patch then but Naomh Conaill, as they so often do, limited the damage when things were going against them.

On that note, Ethan O'Donnell, with those surging bursts up the field, was a key player in keeping the Glenties club in touch while big Charles McGuinness was always an outlet on the edge of the square.

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In the second half, Naomh Conaill did what Kilcar failed to do in consolidating their dominance. Ciaran Thompson, as he so often is, was their star turn with the Donegal midfielder kicking two scores in the second half that were as beautiful as they were game-changing.

The second of those was worthy of winning the game on its own and it was the ideal way to put the controversy of the 2020 decider behind them. If that was up in the air, this was clear-cut and Naomh Conaill will now head into the final with confidence.