By Frank Craig
JEAIC Mac Ceallbhuí says the manner in which Naomh Conaill saw out the closing moments of the county final in MacCumhaill Park on Saturday perfectly summed up their efforts as a team.
With 14-man St Eunan’s in desperate need of an equaliser, they continuously found their avenue towards that so-called scoring zone obstructed by blue bodies.
But the control the Glenties men exerted in those last three minutes of added time was so admirable to watch.
There is no doubt that the game’s officials would have been well aware at that stage that they errered in the extreme when sending off Shane O’Donnell before half-time.
One late stray hand or any Glenties player leaving a little too much on a black and amber body might well have allowed them to perhaps, in some contorted manner, gift Eunan’s another day out.
But Naomh Conaill simply didn’t take any chances on that front. And a carefully orchestrated blue shield went up in that same period where contact, or any description, just wasn’t entertained.
Mac Ceallbhuí explained: “We set up similar enough in the second half but with the extra man and those pockets opening up, we just maybe progressed things on that little bit further. And in those last few minutes we had to be so careful.
“One aggressive hand or lapse would have given them the chance to maybe win a free in a scoreable position.
“So the last few exchanges, I think that was the real winning of the game for us.
“I don’t know what it looked like from outside the wire but the intensity and discipline inside it from our lads was top.”
Reflecting on the fact that they entered the match, their sixth final on the bounce, as big underdogs, he said: “We can’t control that. But it was hard to completely ignore as well. I think that’s what gave us that extra fire, if it was even needed, before the game.
“We knew people were writing us off. And listen, I guess we didn’t really find top gear until today.
“But that was the pleasing thing – we showed up when it mattered most.”
He added: “We were confident. We knew that if we implemented the game-plan then we wouldn’t be far away.
“We were very calm. I guess that’s the really good thing about having so much experience inside our dressing room, we don’t really get too carried away.
“We were a little frustrated at half-time because the goal was avoidable. We switched off from a quickly taken free-kick. But we defended really well, our discipline and shape was exactly what it needed to be.
“But this means a lot. It’s a really sweet one. We’re really delighted. And looking around it’s easy to see just what it means to the club.”