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Donegal champs edge thriller

Coalisland 1-09 Naomh Conall 1-10: Naomh Conaill withstood a late Coalisland flurry to book their place in the Ulster Club final against Crossmaglen Rangers following this tingling semi-final at fog-bound Brewster Park, Enniskillen yesterday.

On a day when visibility was impaired because of the weather, Naomh Conaill had a clear vision of where they were going and in racking up their third consecutive win in the competition they have further enhanced their reputation having already claimed the scalps of Kingscourt Stars and Clontibret.

They were again quickly out of the blocks yesterday and a bright opening quarter saw them enjoy a 1-7 to 0-6 half-time lead.

This was thanks in the main to Dara Gallagher’s well-finished 20th minute goal and they looked set to cement their dominance in the second period. Dermot Molloy, Leon Thompson and Leo McLoone carried a major threat for the Donegal side, while Anthony Thompson and John Bonnar fortified their defence.

But Damian O’Hagan’s feisty side, who brought on substitutes Patrick O’Farrell and Richard Thornton, offered a much more robust challenge after the break and were ultimately unfortunate to go down by a point.

Indeed Coalisland were much more creative and their vitality was rewarded in the 44th minute when skipper Plunkett Kane rifled in their goal. That put them ahead at 1-9 to 1-8 and they then launched a wave of attacks.

But the Naomh Conaill defence tightened up and the ever-dangerous Molloy scored his fifth point to level the scores at 1-9 and set up a grandstand finish.

And just when it appeared that the match might go to into extra-time Gallagher swept over a free to ease Naomh Conaill in front — a lead which they managed to hold until the end.

Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; C Boyle, J Bonnar, T O’Donoghue; M Boyle. A Thompson; B Maguire; J McLoone (0-1), M Regan (0-1); E Wade (0-1), J O’Malley (0-1). D Molloy (0-5, 0-2 frees); L Thompson, L McLoone, D Gallagher (1-1, 0-1 free).

Coalisland: J Curran (0-2, both ‘45s); E Wylie, P Donnelly, B Toner (0-1); P Kane (1-0), N Kerr, C Bayne; P Toner, P McMahon; L O’Neill, S McNally, P McNeice (0-4); G Toner, T O’Hagen, S Curran (0-1). Subs: P O’Farrell for Bayne, D Parton (0-1), for Toner, R Thornton for Kerr.

Referee: M Higgins (Lisnaskea).

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