New Gaoth Dobhair boss Kevin Cassidy got his tenure off to an encouraging start with a narrow two-point home win over Ardara on Sunday.
Gaoth Dobhair 2-11
Despite starting with both Neil and Eamonn McGee on the bench, the hosts still managed to exit at the break with their noses in front by two. On a bright but unusually calm-ish sort of afternoon in Magheragallon, a brace of early efforts from Padraig McGarvey (free) and Odhran MacNiallais had the hosts in front.
However, efforts up the other end by Gareth Concarr and Kevin ‘Bishop’ Breslin soon tied matters up 10 minutes in. Successive frees from Cian Mulligan, including a super conversion on the far right, once again had Gaoth Dobhair ahead by two.
Brendan McNelis then pulled one back for the visitors before point numbers six and seven from Paul and Cian Mulligan (free) opened up a deserving three-point gap on a scoreline of 0-3 to 0-6, bang on 20 minutes.
With Ardara under the cosh, Marty Shovlin slammed in a cracker of a goal to drag his side level, two minutes later. The same player wasn’t finished and Shovlin followed up that green flag with a point a minute as Ardara edged in front for the fist time in the contest.
A Padraig McGarvey free kept Gaoth Dobhair in touch before Kevin Herron raced forward from defence to once again ease his side onto the front foot.
With the interval looming Gaoth Dobhair, and Odhran MacNiallais in particular, were afforded far too much room through the middle as the county man slipped through three Ardara men with ease before rattling the ball past a hapless Declan Gallagher.
That late push from Cassidy’s charges meant that Gaoth Dobhair went in at the midpoint two to the good on a difference of 1-7 to 1-5.
Half-time: Gaoth Dobhair 1-7:1-5 Ardara.
After the restart, Adrian Brennan’s side opened the new period like they meant business. They hit the first three points to go one clear thanks to Concarr, Shovlin and McNelis. But with Odhran MacNiallais always a danger from distance and most angles, Ardara were soon pegged back to parity once again.
On 50 minutes, Gaoth Dobhair struck a real blow when Kieran Gillespie banged in a second goal before MacNiallais followed up straight away with another over. That left their team 2-9 to 1-8 to the good heading into the final six minutes and looking good for the win.
Sensing that the game was getting away from them, Ardara hit back through a Concarr free. But the headway made was light as Paul Mulligan and Eamonn McGee propelled their side out to a five-point lead that, in truth, looked unassailable at that late juncture.
And while Ardara did throw the kitchen sink at it late on by registering the final three points of the game through Concarr (0-2,1f) and Jimmy O’Connell; the damage had already been done and the clock eventually beat them.
In the end, Gaoth Dobhair just about shaded proceedings and it was Cassidy and co that took the opening two league points up for grabs in Magheragallon away from this one. Gaoth Dobhair: C Sweeney; S McGarvey, D McGee, M Weed; C O ‘Fearraigh, D McBride, P Mulligan (0-2); R MacNiallais, S Doherty; M Roarty, O MacNiallais (1-3), P Gallagher; C Mulligan (0-2), P McGarvey(0-3,3f), Kieran Gillespie (1-0). Subs: J Harkin for Gallagher (half-time), E McGee (0-1) for Roarty (35), N McGee for R MacNiallais (40), A Blair for McGarvey (63).
Ardara: D Gallagher; S McLaughlin, D Gavigan, K Breslin (0-1); P Gallagher, K Herron (0-1), K Breslin; K Doherty, J O’Connell (0-1); C Classon, N Maguire, B McNelis (0-2,1f); G Concarr (0-5,4f), M Shovlin (1-2). Subs: K Byrne for Gallagher (45), CJ Molloy for Boyle (53), O O’Donnell for K Breslin (59).
Referee: C Doherty (Naomh Conaill).