Two late points from substitutes Martin Shovlin and Aidan Shovlin sealed victory for Ardara in a hard fought affair in Tir Conaill Park.
Four Masters 1-5
But some of the home team’s officials were not too happy after team captain Barry Dunnion was black-carded for a tackle on towering Ardara wing-forward Brendan McNelis three minutes from time.
The card was probably merited, but there were at least five other instances where referee Connie Doherty could have dished out a black card, but settled for a free kick.
However, this was far from a malicious affair although Ardara would have been livid had the Masters managed to salvage even a draw from this encounter.
The winners hit 11 wides and towering full-forward C J Molloy could have goaled twice but his efforts struck the post and sailed fractionally wide. As it was the Masters grabbed the only goal of the game in the 33rd minute when Dunnion dribbled soccer style through the heart of the Ardara defence. He then slipped a clever pass to the in-rushing Michael Doherty, and the ex-Donegal star slid the ball under Ardara keeper Declan Gallagher to suddenly level matters for the home side on a score of Ardara 0-6, Four Masters 1-3.
Doherty’s delicate finish hauled Masters back into a match that had slid firmly away from them as Ardara led by 0-6 to 0-3 at the interval.
Molloy, Brendan Boyle and Gareth Concarr were dictating matters, Boyle hit two superb efforts while Molloy and Thomas Boyle were also on target for the victors.
Four Masters replied through a superb outside of the boot point from young Darren Doherty with Conor McDaid supplying the remainder of the scores.
Doherty’s clinical finish gave Four Masters a brief period of ascendancy in the third quarter and they extended their lead through points from Brian Egan and a superbly struck sideline free from Michael Doherty.
Things looked rosy for the home side but they failed to score from the 38th minute.
In contrast Ardara threw on Shane O’Donnell for a tiring Kevin Byrne and switched the towering Brendan McNelis to midfield. The switch worked as McNelis and Kevin Breslin levelled matters for the men from the southwest.
Barry Dunnion and the surging John Boyle kept up the Masters challenge but the sheer physical power of Ardara told heavily in the end.
Masters threw on Peadar Espey and Josh Lacey for Dylan Ward and Michael Doherty but Ardara subs Martin Shovlin, Shane O’Donnell and Aidan Shovlin had a much greater impact.
This was a thoroughly deserved win for Ardara who have an interesting twin tower strike force in Molloy and Boyle.
Four Masters: Ryan Haughey; Kevin Breslin, Danny McGarrigle, Leo McHugh; Caolan Loughney, John Boyle, Barry Dunnion; Kevin McBrearty, Conor Rooney; Raymie McGroary, Dylan Ward, Darren Doherty (0-1); Brian Egan (0-1), Michael Doherty (1-1,free), Conor McDaid (0-21f). Subs: Peadar Espey for Dylan Ward (25), Josh Lacey for Michael Doherty (45) Padraig Harvey for B Dunnion (57 black card).
Ardara: Declan Gallagher; Sean McLaughlin, Declan Gavigan, Kieran Breslin; Nicholas Maguire, Kevin Herron, Nicholas Breslin; Kenneth Doherty, Kevin Byrne; Brendan McNelis (0-2, 1f), Gareth Concarr, Kevin Breslin (0-1); C J Molloy (0-1), Brendan Boyle (0-2), Tomas Boyle (0-2 1f). Subs: Martin Shovlin (0-1) for Kevin Herron (13), Shane O’Donnell for Kevin Byrne (39), Peter McHugh for Nicholas Breslin (51), Aidan Shovlin (0-1) for Martin Shovlin.
Referee: Connie Doherty (Glenties)