Ardara secure crucial league points

Ardara secure crucial league points
It was far from pretty, but Ardara boss Adrian Brennan won’t care in the slightest after his side earned only its second win of the season yesterday afternoon.

It was far from pretty, but Ardara boss Adrian Brennan won’t care in the slightest after his side earned only its second win of the season yesterday afternoon.

Ardara 0-7

Four Masters 0-4

By Frank Craig

It was far from pretty, but Ardara boss Adrian Brennan won’t care in the slightest after his side earned only its second win of the season yesterday afternoon.

The Pearse Park men went into their home clash with Championship foes Four Masters with only pointless Killybegs below them at the foot of Donegal football’s top tier. However, a trojan effort in difficult conditions saw Ardara grind out a result that might just provide the jump-start Division 1′s longest serving tenants need as they look to starve off fears of the drop.

Ardara’s turn in fortunes coincided with the return of county man Paddy McGrath to the ranks at the weekend – his first league start for his club this season. Masters, on the other hand, were dealt a blow with the news that both Karl Lacey and Paul Durcan would not be risked having picked up minor knocks at training the previous evening as Donegal continue their preparations for that massive Ulster SFC opener with Tyrone in little over two weeks time.

Ardara went in at the break 0-4 to 0-1 in front. But with Four Masters looking forward to playing with the aid of the elements in the second period, it didn’t look good for the home side at the midpoint.

Stephen Keeney should have done better early on when he hit a post from close range. Ardara then laboured out to a four-point advantage by the eighteenth minute after Gareth Concarr had initially got them off the mark.

Kevin Herron doubled his side’s tally and advantage on seven minutes when he popped over from distance. That was followed by a sweeping passage of play involving Matthew Maher, Paddy McGrath and Declan Gavigan before the latter helped the ball over the bar from a difficult angle wide on the right.

Brendan Boyle won the resulting kickout before the ball was eventually worked into the arms of Peter McNelis who kicked Ardara four in front. Both sides struggled in front of the posts from there on in and right up until the final seconds of the first-half when Conor McDaid floated over a late free.

Half-time: Ardara 0-4: 0-1 Four Masters.

Four Masters pinged over the first two points of the new half, but it took a full ten minutes for the visitors to to claw themselves back to within the minimum on a scoreline of 0-4 to 0-3. Shane Carr, from a standing position and under considerable pressure, booted a superb point for his side four minutes after the restart.

But despite enjoying their fare share of possession, Four Masters struggled in front of the posts and had to wait another six minutes before Conor McDaid converted from play.

As tempers began to fray, Ardara, to their credit, rallied. They showed an aggression and application that got its just rewards. Two timely points from the boots of Peter McNelis and Concarr within two minutes of each other lifted spirits and despite Conor McDaid (free) pulling another point back for Masters, Brennan’s charges saw out proceeding in determined fashion as Brendan McNelis hammered over a free to push his side three in front going into the final minutes in Kentucky.

And although Masters pushed hard for an opening late on, Ardara held out to take the win. For the victors, there were big performances from Paddy McGrath, Matthew Maher, Gareth Concarr and Kenneth Doherty, while Masters were best served by Barry Dunnion, Conor McDaid and Barry Monaghan.

Speaking afterwards, Gareth Concarr relayed his thoughts on the performance and the importance of the two points claimed. “We’re happy to get the win – we needed that in fairness. We dug deep and hopefully we’ve turned a corner. We had Paddy (McGrath) and Brendan Boyle back in there today and ‘Red’ (Stephen McHugh also returned.

“That’s a huge boost. They’re three players with massive quality and experience. Hopefully things are now beginning to pick up with players coming back and we can start stringing together results from here on in.”

Ardara: Declan Gallagher; Shaunie McLaughlin: Declan Gavigan: Kevin Breslin; Stephen Boyle: Matthew Maher: Paddy McGrath; Brendan McNelis (0-1,1f): Kenneth Doherty; Kieran Breslin: Brendan Boyle: Kevin Herron (0-1); Peter McNelis (0-2): Fergal Heena: Gareth Concarr (0-2). Subs: Stephen McHugh for F. Heena, Pat Gallagher for S. Boyle.

Four Masters: Shane Martin; Darren Walsh: Barry Farrell: Ryan O’Donnell; Josh Lacey: Barry Dunnion: Danny McGarrigle; Barry Monaghan: Conor Rooney; Raymie McGroary: Jamie McCrea: Conor McDaid 0-3, 1f); Dylan Ward: Shane Carr (0-1): Stephen Keeney. Subs., Conor McMonagle for D Ward, Lee McHugh for J. Lacey, Ciaran Cassidy for S. Keeney.

Referee: Martin Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).

St. Eunan’s good form continues

St Eunan’s 1-10

Naomh Conaill 0-7

St Eunan’s won their fifth All-County Football League outing from six with a competent six-point win over Naomh Conaill at a wintery O’Donnell Park yesterday.

Eamon O’Boyle’s side played with the first half wind and were in a decent position, 1-6 to 0-3 in front by the changing of ends. The only goal of the match was an untidy one, particularly from a Naomh Conaill perspective, as Conor Gibbon’s underhit free on 22 minutes wasn’t handled well by Stephen McGrath and the ball dropped into the net. Eamon Doherty rounded off the first-half scoring.

That made the score 1-5 to 0-4 after Donnacha Gallagher had scored two early points for St Eunan’s. And while Dermot Molloy and Dara Gallagher were the outlets for Naomh Conaill, the first half lacked real intensity.

With the wind at their back in their backs, Paddy Campbell’s team didn’t feed their dangerous forwards as much as they might’ve liked after the break and St Eunan’s were effective at winning and mopping up loose balls in front of their own goal.

Rory Kavanagh, Gibbons and Kieran Sharkey points gave the hosts a comfortable position and although two Naomh Conaill hit four late successive scores - a long-ranger from Brendan McDyre, a free from Molloy and two from Gallagher - it was Conall Dunne’s fine finish from a flowing move that clinched the win.

St Eunan’s: Damian Martin; Conor Parke, Michéal Martin, Dara Mulgrew; Caolan Ward, Eamon Doherty (0-1), Ciaran Greene; Kevin Rafferty, Rory Kavanagh (0-2); Mark McGowan, Conall Dunne (0-1), Ross Wherity; Conor Gibbons (1-1), John Haran, Donnacha Gallagher (0-2). Subs: Kieran Sharkey (0-1) for M Martin (22), Sean McVeigh for Gibbons (48).

Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath; Thomas Donoghue, Johnny Bonner, Jason Campbell; Cathal Ellis, Seamus Ellis, Anthony Thompson; Brendan McDyre (0-1), Leo McLoone; Aaron Thompson, Ciaran Thompson, Eoin Waide; Leon Thompson, Dermot Molloy (0-2, 2f), Dara Gallagher (0-4, 3f).

Subs: Marty Boyle for S Ellis (14)

Referee: Michael McShane (Kilcar)

Big win for Malin

Killybegs 0-5

Malin 0-16

Killybegs’ poor run continued when they were well beaten by a Malin team who were well up for their visit to Eamonn Byrne Memorial Park in Fintra.

It took both sides a bit of time to get to grips with the windy conditions. Malin created the early chances and after 15 minutes had gone into a five points to one lead. Killybegs kicked three in-a-row to get back in touch but Malin, especially through Pat and Brendan McLaughlin, went in at half time 0-9 to 0-4 to the good.

Malin played against the elements in the second half but continued to dominate the play. They added further points from Charlie Byrne, who had a fine game at wing half back; Anthony Kelly, who was excellent from frees, and corner forward Michael Byrne, who landed a number of fine points.

Killybegs, who were short a number of regulars, never came to grips with a Malin outfit who put in a excellent sixty minutes. For Killybegs Niall Carbery, David Conwell, John Ban Gallagher and Christopher Murrin tried their best; for Malin in a good team performance, Brendan McLaughlin, John Gerard McLaughlin and Anthony Kelly stood out.

Killybegs: S Murrin, D Conwell, K Fallon, N Carbery (0-1), D Breslin, C Murrin, A O Hara (0-3), E Murphy, B Boyle, R Boyle, M Boyle, B Maguire, J Ban Gallagher (0-1), P Gallagher, S Conaghan. Sub., K Tully for S Conaghan.

Malin: D Lafferty, M McLaughlin, D Harkin, J Doherty, D Greene, J McLaughlin, C Byrne (0-1), J G McLaughlin (0-1), A Kelly (0-2), S McLaughlin(0- 2), K McColgan, P McLaughlin (0-3), B McLaughlin (0-4), T Doherty, M Byrne (0-3).

Referee: Ian Molloy (Naomh Conaill).

Kilcar go top

There was controversy at the end of the game between St Michael’s and Kilcar at the Bridge, Dunfanaghy, with the home side unhappy that Mickey Mulhern blew for full time with St. Michael’s on the attack.

St. Michael’s 1-9

Kilcar 1-10

The alotted period of four minutes had been played but the home side felt they should have been given the time to shoot for the equaliser.

The game was transferred to Dunfanaghy after Towney was declared unplayable early in the morning.

There was plenty to play for with these sides occupying the top two positions in the table and the win, which was achieved without Mark McHugh, puts the side from the South West into the lead in the table.

They got the win thanks to a very good opening half, in which they forged a lead of 1-10 to 0-3 at half-time after playing with the elements.

Once again Patrick McBrearty, who has been on fire for the club and county in recent games, was their scorer-in-chief, firing 1-4. One of the highlights of the opening half was his point from a sideline.

With a ten point deficit to make up, St. Michael’s found the going tough early in the second half, but they almost got back on par thanks to a goal from Ciaran Gallagher, but in the end the final whistle came just too soon.

St. Michael’s: Ciaran Gallagher; Stephen Black, Brendan Rodden, James Alcorn (0-1); Stephen Doak, Liam Paul Ferry, Gerard Gallagher; Peter Witherow, Martin McElhinney; Ciaran Gallagher (1-0), Martin Breslin, Christy Toye (0-1); Colm McFadden (0-5), Stephen Coyle, Andrew Kelly (0-1). Subs., Lee Martin Carr (0-1) for Breslin; Oisin Langan for Coyle.

Kilcar: Eamonn McGinley; Pauric Carr, Conor McShane, Barry McGinley; Barry Shovlin, Ryan McHugh, Ciaran McGinley; Michael Hegarty (0-3), David McShane (0-1); Stephen Shovlin, Eoin McHugh, Pauric Sweeney; Aodhan McGinley (0-2), Patrick McBrearty (1-4,2f,one sideline), Barry Doherty. Subs., Patrick Gallagher for P Sweeney 59; Matthew McClean for A McGinley 62.

Referee: Michael Mulhern (St. Eunan’s)