The gloves are off and almost all of the championship clichés folded away as Kilcar and Naomh Conaill collide in a mouth watering county final clash on Sunday, writes Gerry McLaughlin.

And nobody could argue that we do not have the two best teams in the final.

For both have been very impressive in their own journey towards the holy grail of Donegal football.

It is a clash between the electrifying pace and sheer panache of those darting dervishes of Towney and the sheer experience and ability to prevail that so permeates this remarkable Glenties side.

It is the elan and enthusiasm of the McHugh/McBrearty axis against the indomitable spirit and steel of he likes of Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson, Marty Boyle and Brendan McDyer to name but a view.

Viewed coldly, you would have to make Glenties the slightest of favourites.


Their pedigree is virtually peerless and Glenties have taken three county titles in 2005, 2010 and 2015 and contested two other finals in 2009 and 2012.

You can’t buy that kind of experience and players like Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson, Brendan McDyer, Eoin Waide, Marty Boyle, Johnny Bonner, Johnny McLoone, John O’Malley, Leon Thompson and Seamus Corcoran have vast experience and have loads of county medals.

Add in youthful talent like the very confident Eoghan McGettigan and the sheer elegance of Ethan O’Donnell along with county start Ciaran Thompson and it is truly a formidable mix.


Their form had been patchy all year and continued in the first half of that epic semi-final against Gaoth Dobhair when they trailed by six points at the interval.

But real champions don’t do panic and they came out a transformed side in the second half with Leo McLoone becoming increasingly dominant.

They also flooded the centre of the field and slowed the game down to their pitch and gradually wore Gaoth Dobhair down.

And it really was their experience that these battle hardened warriors through.

Also they did not look overly impressive against a battling Killybegs side in the quarter final but once again, di enough to prevail.

Opponents Kilcar had a relatively easier passage.

They were well tested by Gaoth Dobhair in the early rounds and Glenswilly staged an epic comeback in their group game in Towney.

But Kilcar held firm and then had relatively easy victories over a weakened Bundoran and a very disappointing St Michael’s in the county semi-final.

Their greatest asset is Usain Bolt type pace and supreme first touch.

Kilcar are not the biggest of teams but have a towering leader in very mobile midfielder Ciaran McGinley who is playing the football of his career.

McGinley runs at defences like a locomotive and can carve openings for the McHugh’s McClean’s and McBrearty’s.


Ryan McHugh is the oil in the engine, tbe darting quarter back who can make an take scores and has an uncanny ability to get on the end of a lightning move to palm home goals and his vision is more than 20/20.

Eoin McHugh is the fastest forward with the ball in hand in the county while both McBrearty’s are match winners.

Conor Doherty is also a very classy player while the ageless Michael Hegarty will probably sweep in front of the full back line.

Glenties have a definite edge in the physical stakes sand will probably try and slow this match down to their own pace.

Kilcar are at their most dangerous when playing off the shoulder at pace and have the forwards to inflict serious damage.

They will need a good start and no doubt Glenties have plans made to halt their momentum.

Many neutrals are predicting an open game but this writer thinks the first quarter could be cagey enough as both sides rare also very adept at the blanket defence.

But there is serious talent all over park and a great chance for Donegal boss Declan Bonner to survey some of the county’s finest players.

Predicting a winner is very tricky but given their vast physique, experience and finishing ability, Glenties get a hesitant vote although we could easily have a replay.

This article first appeared in this week's Donegal Post which carries an extensive preview of the big game.

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