Aodh Ruadh did well to overcome a determined Fanad Gaels side in Father Tierney Park to record their eighth win in succession over league and championship.
Aodh Ruadh 1-11
Fanad Gaels 1-7
It was a case of defences to the fore in a low-scoring first half. The score board operator wasn't troubled until a full 13 minutes had been played, a great ball from David McGurrin picking out David Dolan who sent over an assured shot
However it was Fanad who had the breeze at their backs and it was they who enjoyed the better of the attacking opportunities in the half.
Aodh Ruadh went man to man early on and that left a prairie of open space in front of Seamus Friel which he was able to use to good effect to pop over the visitors' opener after 14 minutes.
Two minutes on Michael Sweeney danced through the thin Aodh Ruadh rearguard before slamming home an unstoppable shot to Pete Boyle's left to get the green flag flying.
Aodh Ruadh got through on goal shortly after, but were turned over and the ball raced up the field to Seamus Friel who had the easy job of slipping over from close range. Friel added another from a routine dead ball with seven minutes to run in the half as Aodh Ruadh found it difficult to create any sort of meaningful openings.
They did manage a second score before the half-time whistle, recycling patiently before David McGurrin swung over a magnificent score.
Continued to threaten
However Fanad continued to threaten and Peter Boyle had to be alert to make a magnificent save from Paul Coyle. The last say in the half went to the visitors with Friel easing over a '45 to send the sides in at Aodh Ruadh 0-2 Fanad Gaels 1-4.
The breeze was a factor though and the game was still well in the balance at the turn-over. The Ernesiders got the perfect start to the new half when Michael Ward got up from corner back to turn over Brendan Friel's kick out. Possession came to David McGurrin who swung over a cracking shot.
It got better not long after when Michael 'Sticky' Ward hit a switch ball which was fielded outstandingly by David Dolan. Dolan laid off to David McGurrin who stayed cool to place his shot past Friel to put a point between the sides.
It was all level at 38 minutes when Peter Boyle smashed over a '45 and five minutes later David McGurrin sent the hosts back into the lead.
McGurrin then won the Fanad kick out and then got on the end of the move to fist over. Although there was a chance of goal it was probably the right option because from there on Ballyshannon would never be headed.
As the game entered the final quarter McGurrin hoisted over a beauty of a score from 40 metres, although that one was cancelled out by a close in Seamus Friel free. Feargal Friel then got the Gaels back on level terms a minute later, fisting over after racing through on goal.
The sides were tied, but Aodh Ruadh now entered a period of total midfield dominance, repeatedly claiming Brendan Friel's restarts.
It started after 49 minutes when Sticky Ward did really well to win a free which Diarmaid McInerney slipped just inside the posts to give Ballyshannon back the lead.
Then David McGurrin again won the kick out and the ball was quickly worked to McInerney who rifled over an emphatic effort.
Soon after Sticky Ward did well to win the ball before linking up with Paddy Gillespie, he hit an intelligent switch ball to Ryan McKenna and the young sub showed composure beyond his years as he guided between the posts.
That effort was followed by a glorious individual score from Seamus Kane to put four between them.
Fanad could have cut the deficit to the minimum with seven minutes left, but Seamus 'Coisa' Friel hit a weak shot which was gathered on the line by Paddy Gillespie. Instead Aodh Ruadh mounted a raking counter attack which was concluded with a trademark beauty from David Dolan.
That was a five point scoring burst crammed into four minutes which effectively ended the game as a contest.
Niall Carr lofted over from play close in with five minutes left, but Fanad looked like a beaten docket at that stage and Aodh Ruadh steered the game to a successful conclusion over the closing minutes.
Aodh Ruadh: Peter Boyle (0-1f); Michael Ward, Damian Cleary, Calum O'Halloran; Jason Granaghan, Niall Harley, Paddy Gillespie; Eamonn McGrath, Conor Patton; David McGurrin (1-4), Michael 'Sticky' Ward, Diarmaid McInerney (0-2, 1f); Seamus Kane (0-1), David Dolan (0-2), Johnny Gethins.
Subs: Pauric Patton for Niall Harley 22m; Ryan McKenna (0-1) for Jason Granaghan 45m; Kerry Ryan for Michael 'Sticky' Ward 57m.
Fanad Gaels: Brendan Friel; Conor McGonagle, Patrick Heraghty, Frank Sweeney; Ciaran Coll, Cathal Martin, Paul Coyle; Sean McElwaine, Michael Sweeney (1-0); Feargal Friel (0-1), Seamus 'Coisa' Friel, Mark Friel; Davitt Walsh, Seamus Friel (0-5, 2f, 1 45), Niall Carr (0-1).
Referee: Connie Doherty (Naomh Conaill)
DIVISION THREE ROUND-UP
Urris chalked up a much needed two league points with a nine point victory over Naomh Ultan on Saturday evening in Clonmany.
Naomh Ultan 0-13
Peter Devlin two of the goals and Darren Grant one for only the Inishowen men’s second win in the league.
All of the goals were scored in the first half to give Urris a 3-4 to 0-4 halftime lead against Naomh Ultan side that never got out of the blocks in the first half.
But turned in a much better performance in the second half as they stormed back into the game and Urris were clinging on at the end.
Urris: Johnny Noone; James Griffin, Sean McDaid, Kieran Kelly; Mickey Grant, Kieran Doherty, Declan Grant; Darren Grant, John McCarron; Conor Bradley, Kevin McLaughlin, Barney Friel; Mark McLaughlin, Peter Devlin, Alan Friel. Subs: Brian Doherty for B Frie; Jason Doherty for Declan Grant; Adrian Doherty for Mark Mc Laughlin.
Naomh Ultan: Donal Murrin; Michael McGlynn, Jonathan Cassidy, Paul Gallier; Conor Shovlin, Dermot Gallier (0-2), Andrew Blaine; Declan Murrin (0-1), Shane McWhinnie; Daniel Gallagher (0-1), Cian Kennedy (0-6), Paul Murrin (0-1); James Byrne, Aidan Duddy (0-2), Damien Quigley. Subs: S Kyles for P Murrin and Dan Mularkey for M McGlynn.
Conor McBrearty, John Doran and Ciaran Cannon scored the goals for Letterkenny Gaels as they overcame Naomh Colmcille, in Newtowncunningham on Saturday night.
Naomh Colmcille 1-10
Letterkenny Gaels 3-8
The prolific McBrearty also posted four points while Lee Toland scored 0-4 for Naomh Colmcille and Conor Grant hit the Naomh Colmcille goal.
Naomh Colmcille: G McDaid; P Friel, W Lynch, R Hegarty; A Devenney, J Fullerton, G Curran; R McErlane(0-3) M Lynch(0-1); E Gillespie, O Hilley, S Gallagher; Conor Grant(1.0), J Donaghey(0-2), Lee Toland(0-.4). Sub. Ryan Dowds for G Curran
Letterkenny Gaels: S Graham(0-1); C Coll, R Quinn, K Kilkenny;C Lynch, D Hunter, C Browne; Brendan O’Brien, C Cannon; S McDonagh(0-1), Ciaran Cannon(1-1), P Doherty(0-1), M Hunter, C McBrearty(1-4), Shane McGlade. Sub: J Doran(1-0) for C Coll.
Downings pip Naomh Brid
James Lee McBride and Gary McClafferty scored the goals as Downings pipped Naomh Brid in this closely contested clash in Trummon.
The result means these sides are now level in second place in Division 3.
Naomh Brid 2-7
Downings: Patrick McGroddy; Barry Trearty, Shay Coyle, Seamus Gallagher; Max Davis,Marty McLaughlin, Ben McNutt; Shane Boyce; Bryan McGinley; Finighin McClafferty; James Lee McBride (1-1), Ben McBride (0-2); Lorcan Connor (0-4); Colin Gallagher (0-1) , Danny McBride.Subs; Gary McClafferty(1-0) for S Boyce; Naoise Cullen for M McLaughlin; S McGinley for C Gallagher.