Ardara 0-16 Glenswilly 1-14
by Chris McNulty in Ballybofey
COLIN Kelly’s 17th minute goal fired Glenswilly into their second Donegal SFC final in three years and their third ever after a hard-earned win over Ardara.
Glenswilly couldn’t find the killer touches to put Ardara to the sword and Adrian Brennan’s charges made it a real fight.
Ardara showed all their pedigree and tradition with a rousing comeback.
Trailing by six points with less than twenty minutes to go, Ardara came back to level it scoring seven points in a titanic ten-minute spell that had the big crowd from the Heritage town dreaming.
The highly-influential Gary McFadden put Glenswilly ahead and Kelly emerged from darkness to land a fine score as the game bubbled to its boiling point.
As Glenswilly were left standing, they were indebted to that moment of magic from former Donegal player Kelly just after the mid-way mark in the first half.
The former county man had been presented with an earlier opportunity, but he shot wide from the edge of the square in the seventh minute.
The umpire seemed set to reach for the green flag, but Kelly was put off his stride as he pilled the trigger and his effort flew just wide.
Kelly, though, made no mistake when the chance presented itself a second time.
Upon receipt of an angled delivery from James Pat McDaod, Kelly shimmied one way, then the other to dance past Declan Gavigan and his finish was exquisite. Kelly magnificently clipped his effort past Declan Gallagher to the top corner.
With Gavigan, their captain, taken off a minute later, Ardara suffered a real body blow when Brendan Boyle was forced off injured in the 22nd minute.
While Ardara hit back with Jimmy O’Connell, Boyle’s replacement, scoring twice, and Brendan McNelis Gareth Concarr on the mark, it was Glenswilly who will have had the happier dressing room at the interval.
Kealan McFadden snapped over a score and Murphy landed two frees in added-time – the first of them a whopping 60m kick he made look almost effortless – to make it a five-point game at the short whistle, Glenswilly ahead 1-8 to 0-6.
Concarr had drawn first blood with a free in the opening minute, but Glenswilly began to take charge with the early ball into that lively front-line causing Ardara all sorts of problems inside.
Peter McNelis levelled after a quick-fire Murphy brace, both from frees.
With Ardara going 16 minutes without a score, Glenswilly moved well in control, scoring 1-3 in the same period.
Gary McFadden, from a free, scored before a fantastic over-the-shoulder point under pressure by Murphy stretched the lead and McFadden managed to steer over despite a heavy hit from Kevin Herron.
Kelly’s goal ignited the fuse for Glenswilly, but Gary McDaid’s team just couldn’t get far enough away to make for a more comfortable conclusion.
A couple of Concarr frees kept the Ardara hopes alive, but Eamon Ward’s name went on the scoresheet when his long ball eluded Kelly and bounced over the bar.
Returned Donegal panelist got in on the act with a neat point before McFadden’s fourth of the day put the Glenmen six ahead as the game entered the fourth quarter.
Ardara asked the serious questions and threw the kitchen sink upon Glenswilly, but theirs has become a habit of winning such tense and tight tussles.
Every ounce of their resolve was tested by Ardara, but again they survived.
As Peter McNelis’s shot, the final kick of the game, shook the upright, Ardara players collapsed, crestfallen, with Glenswilly moving into the showpiece.
Ardara: D Gallagher; S McLaughlin, D Gavigan, K Breslin; P Gallagher, K Herron, C Breslin (0-1); K Doherty, B Boyle; B McNelis (0-5, 2f), C Classon, M Shovlin (0-1); N Gallagher, P McNelis (0-2), G Concarr (0-4, 4f). Subs: S McHugh for Gavigan (18 mins), J O’Connell (0-3) for Boyle (22 mins), D Gavigan for Gallagher (half-time.
Glenswilly: P O’Donnell; B McDaid, Caolan Kelly, A McDevitt; R Crawford, E Ward (0-1), J McDaid; N Gallagher, C Bonner (0-1); J Gibbons, G McFadden (0-5, 3f), D McGinley; K McFadden (0-1), M Murphy (0-5, 4f), Colin Kelly (1-1). Subs: B Farrelly for McGinley (41 mins), C Gallagher for J McDaid (45 mins), J McFadden for K McFadden (49 mins).
Referee: S McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh)