This was a feisty affair with a fabulously exciting final quarter where honest, hard hitting, some superb score taking and good old fashioned bloody mindedness, all contributed in equal measure to make this great value for six euro.
Naomh Ultan . . . . . . . . . . . 1-14
Aodh Ruadh . . . . . . . . . . . . 0-17
The resultant draw did neither side any harm, both go through now in the championship, but it was obvious neither wanted a draw nor were they happy with the result.
The second half in particular had a real championship feel to it, there was an edge to the tackles and there were a few times when it threatened to explode such was the intensity from both teams.
Aodh Ruadh, down to 14 for the final 16 minutes when they lost their county minor star Nathan Boyle to a second yellow card, still looked more likely to win this game. There was a composure to their play and they matched the home side in the physical stakes when the hits started to come thick and fast - 99% of them legitimate hits I should add.
But Naomh Ultan just wouldn’t go away and battled back from a two point deficit with three minutes to play to snap over two late points and earn their second draw on the trot in the championship.
Aodh Ruadh, still leading by a point, 0-17 to 1-13 with 60 seconds of normal time left, should have closed the game out, they had two wides, one from play and one from a free and hit the upright with a third effort. A point from one of those three chances would have put the game beyond doubt but the door was left slightly open and Naomh Ultan took their chance.
Naomh Ultan dug deep and a sense of bloody mindedness not to lose came to the fore in the 63rd minute when they won two frees in succession to bring their sharp shooter Cian Kennedy 30 metres from the town end posts.
Kennedy, who was superb all through, scoring ten of their 14 points, six of those from frees, made no mistake and slotted the pressure free to earn his side a draw.
That Kennedy score was all there was time for, and it brought to an end a frenetic final 15 minutes where the referee allowed as much as he could go and both teams responded with manly challenges and none of that lying down dead nonsense we see too often now when a player is tackled hard.
The first half was a tame affair, Naomh Ultan coughed up far too many frees and Aodh Ruadh led 0-10 to 0-7 at the break with seven scores from dead balls, four of those from their keeper Peter Boyle who hit two peach frees clean as a whisker from 50 metres.
The visitors blasted away from 11th to 18th minutes, scoring six unanswered points to lead 0-8 to 0-2, but Naomh Ultan finally woke up and hit five, four from the on fire Kennedy to keep it interesting.
Two minutes into the new half Naomh Ultan goaled, Aaron Byrne’s fine drive brilliantly saved by Boyle but Daniel Gallagher bravely got to the ball to bundle it to the net. 30 seconds later Kennedy clipped over a magnificent point from play and Naomh Ultan led by a point.
Both sides traded points and were level twice by the 50th minute, Aodh Ruadh edged two ahead through Murray and Kane points and looked good enough to hang on to win as Naomh Ultan hit three wides in succession but in a score shy final ten minutes Gallier and Kennedy from that 63rd minute free gave the home side a draw they worked really hard to get.
In Dunkineely in the fading light, this was far from perfect, but honest football, these two sides just got on with it and I for one loved it and I suspect most in the smallish attendance were the same.
Peter Alvey was a menace at times, Kennedy a scoring assassin, Aidan Duddy and Danny Shovlin good leaders for the hosts while 'keeper Boyle from the dead ball, Kelly at the back Dolan and McGurrin up front were good performers for the visitors while Michael Sticky Ward, in a withdrawn defensive role after Nathan Boyle was red carded, played some very clever football.