A goal from Aaron Byrne with 90 seconds of normal time left was the score which settled this exciting semi-final replay in Fintra on Saturday evening.
Naomh Ultan 1-12
The sides were level and extra-time was looming when Sean Furey delivered the perfect pass to Byrne on the run. He could have taken a point, but fired to the corner of the net to put his side 1-12 to 1-9 in front.
Naomh Ultan almost threw it all away as they tried to sit on the lead and Ardara got back within a point but a late effort from Stephen Gildea in the sixth minute of added time was just wide of the post.
The winning goal was poetic justice for Byrne, who was denied a penalty just before the break when he got on the end of a quick Liam Kennedy free and was bundled to the bround by a retreating Damien Diver with referee Andrew Mullen unsighted.
Ardara led by 1-5 to 0-5 at the break with Stephen Gildea in top form, hitting 1-4, the goal from the penalty spot on seven minutes after Christy Shovlin was upended.
Naomh Ultan had a number of bad wides but once Sean Furey began to find the range, they kept in touch, driven on, as always by the evergreen Martin Shovlin at midfield, just months short of his 53rd birthday in January.
It was an entertaining contest with Ardara dealt a big blow by the loss of Christy Shovlin within minutes of the restart with an injury.
Sean Furey began to really find the range and he had three in-a-row to reduce the margin to the minimum by the 40th minute.
Ardara stretched that lead to three again but then Naomh Ultan’s midfield dominance began to gain momentum with points from Andrew Blaine and three more Furey frees to hit the front for the first time with three minutes left.
Michael Doherty levelled immediately before Furey’s pass and Aaron Byrne’s finishsent Naomh Ultan to the final, where they will meet Letterkenny Gaels.
The Junior B is certainly a veterans’ paradise with Martin Shovlin leading the way but Seamus McNern, Liam Kennedy, Ronan McCallig and Sean Furey also add to the mature age profile of the winners
Naomh Ultan: S McNern; E Kennedy, P Byrne, M McGlynn; D Shovlin (0-1), P Fisher, C Battles; M Shovlin, R McCallig; D Quigley, E Byrne (1-1), A Blaine (0-2); L Kennedy, S Furey (0-8,8f), A Nesbitt. Subs., M O’Donnell for Nesbitt 52; K O’Donnell for Blaine 55;.
Ardara: P Gavigan; D Breslin, C Gallagher, R McBrearty; M McShane, D Diver, C Gallagher; S O’Donnell, P McGill; S McGuinness (0-1), M Doherty (0-1), M Shovlin (0-1); L O’Donnell (0-2), C Shovlin, S Gildea (1-6, 3f,pen). Subs., J Doherty for C Shovlin 32; D McNelis for M Shovlin 45; K McCabe for J Doherty 50; D Maguire for McGill 55; D Earley for McGuinness 61.
Referee: A Mullen (Killyegs)