Ardara needed a late Gareth Concarr point to secure a championship win over Glenfin and give themselves a chance of making the quarter-finals
The hosts were expected to have too much for the visitors at the weekend but a battling effort by Glenfin - particularly in the second period - nearly claimed them what would have been a deserved share of the spoils.
Kicking against a blustery breeze in Pearse Memorial Park in the opening half, Adrian Brennan would have been content enough at the interval as his side exited with their noses in front on a difference of 0-8 to 0-7.
However, just like Glenfin in that first 30 minutes, Ardara struggled to make that meteorological advantage count on the scoreboard after the restart. And when Jason Morrow crashed in the game’s only goal seven minutes after the turnaround, Ardara were in serious trouble.
It was the first time that Glenfin had led in the contest and their resolve grew even greater heading into the final quarter as Ciaran Moy sailed over a free to stretch their new-found advantage to two. Ardara battled back to parity four minutes from the end thanks to a Brendan McNelis free and a Kieran Breslin effort from play.
But it looked like both sides would have to settle for a draw when Ryan Melly passed up a glorious opportunity to push Ardara back in front late on when he fluffed his lines from close range.
Still, Jimmy White let the play continue. And three minutes into the red, with both sides desperately scrambling for possession, it was Gareth Concarr that snatched the victory for Ardara as his pop from distance cleared the crossbar.
In a scrappy opening quarter, Ardara were two to the good inside the first three minutes thanks to overs from Tomas Boyle and CJ Molloy. Glenfin were off the mark soon after courtesy of a Mark McGinty Jnr. ping from distance. But with Boyle and McNelis adding a brace of frees things looked good for the home charges as they went five clear thanks to a Kevin White point after Paddy McGrath had sent him on his way.
Two Ciaran Moy frees closed the gap out to one on 21 minutes but with both sides posting three apiece between then and the break, it was Ardara that sat in the driving seat at half-time.
Tomas Boyle (0-2,2f) and Brendan McNelis (free) added to their personal tallies while up the other end, Moy was also on the mark from the placed ball with a brace of frees to go along with a Michael McGlynn over.
Indeed, McGlynn could and should probably have banged in a goal with that opportunity but his dink over the advancing Declan Gallagher had too much on it and it went over instead of under the Ardara netminder’s crossbar.
Half-time: Ardara 0-8:0-7 Glenfin.
Like Glenfin before the break, Ardara didn’t fare well kicking with the breeze despite claiming the first two scores of the new period through two more McNelis frees. But Glenfin made a huge breakthrough via that Morrow goal and the final 15 minutes were both attritional and frantic.
Moy and Morrow added points for Glenfin before the end but with McNelis (free) and Breslin replying for the hosts, it looked like this one would end in stalemate. But with one last throw of the dice Ardara’s numbers came up thanks to Gareth Concarr whose point right at the death snatched the victory for Brennan’s men.
Ardara: D Gallagher; S McLaughlin, S Gavigan, P Gallagher; K Breslin (0-1), K Herron, P McGrath; K Doherty,B McNelis (0-5,3f); K White (0-1), G Concarr (0-1), T Boyle 0-4,4f); R Melly, CJ Molloy (0-1), S O’Donnell. Subs: B Boyle for T Boyle and M Shovlin for K White (both 40mins), N Gallagher for S O’Donnell (47mins), O O’Donnell for P Gallagher (49mins), K Byrne for D Gavigan (59mins).
Glenfin: R Dorrian; G Dorrian, R Gallagher, J Harkin; D McGlynn (0-1), F McGlynn, M McGinty (0-1), M McGlynn (0-1), M McGinty Snr. (0-1); C Ward, K McGlynn, S McGlynn; C Moy (0-4,4f), M Martin, J Morrow (1-1). Subs: P Costello for M McGinty (53mins), D Herron for K McGlynn (58mins).
Referee: J White (Killybegs).