Despite failing to find the target in the opening 20 minutes, Ardara were much the better side in the season opener at Fintra on Friday evening
The scoreboard operator even had Ardara a further point ahead at the end, but they were full value for the five point win with Killybegs failing to sparkle in the second half.
Ardara had a great platform at midfield where Conor Classon and Brendan McNelis won the battle and but for some poor shooting, they could have won by a bagful.
Martin Shovlin should have had a goal inside 20 seconds and they had a number of poor wides, hitting eight in all, four in each half.
Killybegs took full advantage early on with Mark ‘Herbie’ Boyle dictating play from a sweeper role and Brendan Boyle had the opening point on nine minutes after a sweeping move. By the 21st minute Boyle had added two more points from a free and ‘45’ and Conal Molloy also had a free as Killybegs led 0-4 to 0-0.
But from there to the finish, Ardara took control. They had looked dangerous with some good movement from the start but needed a good pointed free from Brendan McNelis from 45m on 22 minutes and three minutes they were on terms as a great move ended with Peter Oliver McNelis finding the Killybegs net.
Two minutes from the break Brendan McNelis pointed Ardara ahead and Gareth Concarr had the final point of the half after good work by Concarr. Half-time: Killybegs 0-4, Ardara 1-3.
Two Peter Oliver McNelis points inside four minutes of the restart were followed by a Concarr free after Conor Classon was fouled to put Ardara five clear inside 36 minutes.
Killybegs were given a glimpse of hope on 44 minutes when a Brendan Boyle free dropped short and was fumbled and Conal Molloy bundled it to the Ardara net from close range.
Brendan Boyle added a point on 48 minutes to reduce the leeway to the minimum, but then Ardara pulled away again with some ease as Noel Gallagher, Concarr (free), Conor Classon and Brendan McNelis (free) hit unanswered points in the final ten minutes.
The visitors were just better in most departments. They arrived together on the bus, all kitted out in perfect unison in their tracksuits and it showed on the field.
Killybegs, on the other hand, were late on to the field and their discipline was poor with six yellow cards in the opening half and Matthew Smyth must count himself very lucky not to have got two yellows in the second half. The Killybegs players just didn’t warm to referee, Eugene McHale, who was having his first start Division One level in Donegal.
McHale was fussy at times, but Killybegs would be fooling themselves if they feel that the referee was the main cause of their problems. Only David Conwell, Mark Boyle and Brendan Boyle played anywhere near their best.
For Ardara Declan Gavigan, Kenneth Doherty, the midfield pair as well as Gareth Concarr and Peter Oliver McNelis impressed.
Killybegs: Michael Mullen; Christopher Cunningham, Ciaran Conaghan, David Conwell; Christopher Murrin, Barry Cannon, Jason Noctor; Enda Murphy, Matthew Smyth; Mark Boyle, Brendan Maguire, Daniel Breslin; Pauric Gallagher, Brendan Boyle (0-4, 1f, 45); Conal Molloy (1-1, 0-1f). Subs., Anthony O’Hara for Murphy 38; John Ban Gallagher for P Gallagher 45.
Ardara: Declan Gallagher; Nicholas Breslin, Declan Gavigan, Kevin Breslin; Paddy Gallagher, Kenneth Doherty, Shaun McLaughlin; Brendan McNelis (0-3,3f), Conor Classon (0-1); Martin Shovlin, Gareth Concarr (0-3,2f), Kieran Breslin; Noel Gallagher (0-1), Peter McNelis (1-2), Peter McHugh. Subs., Oisin O’Donnell for P McHugh 40; Kevin Herron for P Gallagher 56.
Referee: Eugene McHale (Bundoran)