Andrew Kelly and Martin McElhinney scored the goals and Colm McFadden kicked three points as St. Michael’s easily overcame Ardara in Saturday evening’s Gaeltacht semi-final in Pairc Na nGael.
St. Michael’s 2-14
The game also marked the return to action for his first game of the season of Christy Toye, who capped his comeback with a fine point shortly after replacing Lorcan McDaid early in the second half.
Playing a fast flowing game and attacking from all sectors of the park, St. Michael’s laid the groundwork for this victory in the first half. At the end of the opening 30 minutes despite playing into a stiff breeze the boys in red and white led 1-6 to 0-6 having dictated the pace for most of the period.
Kelly’s goal on 16 minutes was one of the game’s defining scores, though even at that stage, despite trailing by a poin, 0-3 to 0-4, St. Michael’s had the more formidable look about them.
Martin McElhinney and Peter Witherow gave them a solid platform at midfield and Colm McFadden was on song in the front line of the attack. He won primary possession well and used the ball with great efficiency and brought those around him into play.
St. Michael’s broke from the traps with three points inside the opening four minutes, McFadden with two of those points either side of a fine strike from Peter Witherow.
But after a slow start Ardara, who were without county man Paddy McGrath and Kenneth Doherty, recovered to have a good spell and with Brendan McNelis leading the charge, they hit four points without response, McNelis (2), Kevin Byrne and Gareth Concarr, to hit the front, by the 13 minute mark.
However, the lead was shortlived as Kelly first-timed to the net when the ball broke into his path. Lorcan McDaid, Brian McLaughlin and Kelly added further points before half time to a solitary response from McNelis.
Four unanswered points courtesy of Ciaran Gallagher, Brian McLaughlin and McFadden (2) saw St. Michael’s stretch their lead out to seven points by the 41st minute.
And it was game set and match one minute later when McFadden found McElhinney with a deft foot pass and he smashed to the Ardara net from five metres.
Leading 2-10 to 0-6, St. Michael’s went into cruise control for the closing quarter hour and with Charlie McLaughlin emptying his bench they ran down the clock with further points from replacements Christy Toye, Raymond McLaughlin, Lee Martin Carr, before Antoin McFadden brought down the curtain on the scoring in the first minute of injury time.
With the horse bolted Jimmy O’Connell, Brendan McNelis and Declan Gavigan scored Ardara’s last quarter points.
St. Michael’s: Stephen McPhilemy; Liam Paul Ferry, Stephen Doak, Brendan Rodden; James Alcorn, Antoin McFadden (0-1), Michael Gallagher; Martin McElhinney (1-0), Peter Witherow (0-1); Ciaran Gallagher (0-1), Martin Breslin, Lorcan McDaid (0-1); Colm McFadden (0-4,1f), Brian McLaughlin(0-2,1f), Andrew Kelly (1-1). Subs: Christy Toye (0-1) for L. McDaid (38); Lee Martin Carr (0-1) for M. Gallagher (43); Raymond McLaughlin (0-1) for C. McFadden (45); Caolan McGee for C. Gallagher (48); Gerard Gallagher for P. Witherow (56).
Ardara: Aidan Shovlin; Paddy Gallagher, Shaun McLaughlin, Declan Gavigan (0-1); Kevin Byrne (0-1), Conor Classon, Kevin Herron; Stephen Boyle, Brendan McNelis (0-4,2f); Ryan Sweeney, Peter McNelis, Kieran Breslin, Fergal Heena, Jimmy O’Connell (0-1), Gareth Concarr (0-2). Subs: Oisin O’Donnell for P. Gallagher (h/t); Patrick Whyte for G. Concarr (52, inj).
Referee: Ian Molloy (Naomh Conaill).