With a long time to ponder an opening day loss in this year’s RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC a decent start could brighten up summer.
Gaoth Dobhair 1-8
Glenswilly had fallen to Kilcar on opening day in each of the last two campaigns but started on the right foot at Magheragallon against Gaoth Dobhair on Saturday evening.
The draw between Malin and Sean MacCumhaill’s on Sunday would’ve been a result that suited both the favourites, ahead of the competition being put in cold storage until Donegal’s quest in both the Ulster and All-Ireland series is over.
There was, on Saturday, a wintery feel with the trademarked Gweedore gale supplemented by a constant drizzle.
The home side had the elements in the first half and made a decent start, with Odhrán MacNiallais popping over four points in side of 17 minutes.
The last of that quartet was masterfully taken from the right flank and although wind-assisted, was still a thing of charm.
Glenswilly, who won the toss and took their chances against the breeze, had scored only once through Gary McFadden’s free.
But Michael Canning’s side were initially intent to keep in touch and used a ball in hand game. McFadden scored two more frees by the 24th minute to leave Glenswilly’s arrears at the single point, 0-4 to 0-3.
Michael Murphy was off target with a couple of frees, although the Donegal skipper faced a breeze with no rhyme nor reason.
There was a two-point swing late in the half when McFadden was unfortunate to hit the upright in an attempt to level and from the resultant breakway, Cian Mulligan fired Gaoth Dobhair 0-5 to 0-3 in front.
That would’ve made for a satisfactory half-time advantage for Conal Sheridan’s team but right at the end of the half the balance of power swung.
Kealan McFadden was hauled down by Neil McGee and from the penalty that was awarded, Murphy drove past Joe Duffy.
Glenswilly might’ve only been in front of 30 seconds of the half, but it was enough for the lead at the changing of ends, 1-3 to 0-5.
With the wind then at their backs, Gaoth Dobhair’s odds were lengthening. Darren McGinley extended Glenswilly’s cushion after the restart.
However, a Gaoth Dobhair goal on 35 minutes gave the home support optimism. Kieran Gillespie, it was, who tucked past Gerard McGrenra following Michéal McKelvey lumping a long ball in the Glenswilly square.
Glenswilly, from 1-5 to 1-4 down, were soon marginally in front thanks to scores from Ciaran Bonner and Murphy.
But they had their goalkeeper McGrenra to thank on 41 minutes for maintaining that advantage for his vital stop at the near post as Cian Mulligan cut in from the right.
A free from Gavin McBride levelled it up at 1-6 apiece but Murphy - as he did for Donegal six days before against Tyrone - popped off three scores in a row that essentially won the match.
MacNiallais did reply with two late scores but Kealan McFadden’s point sealed the Glenswilly win.
Gaoth Dobhair: Joseph Duffy; James Boyle, Neil McGee, Ciaran Ferry; Keiran Gillespie (1-0), Eamon McGee, Cian Mulligan (0-1); Michéal McKelvey, Peter McGee; Paul Mulligan, Odhrán MacNiallais (0-6, 3f), Niall Friel; Gavin McBride (0-1, 1f), James Gallagher, Noel Kelly. Subs: Michael Carroll for P Mulligan (40), Donal McBride for Gallagher (50), Gary McFadden for C Gillespie (59).
Glenswilly: Gerard McGrenra; Ruairí Crawford, Eamon Ward, Caolan Kelly; Oisin Crawford, Aidan McDevitt, Joe Gibbons; Neil Gallagher, Ciaran Bonner (0-1); Cathal Gallagher, Gary McFadden (0-3, 3f), Brian Farrelly; Kealan McFadden (0-1), Michael Murphy (1-4, 1-0 pen, 3f), Darren McGinley (0-1). Subs: Cormac Callaghan for Farrelly (45), Paul O’Brien for McGinley (57).
Referee: Andrew Mullin (Killybegs)