Glenswilly are looking forward to their fifth Donegal Senior Championship final following a hard fought win over Malin in O’Donnell Park.
This was a tense dour affair and with both teams setting up defensively forwards found space at a premium and scores were few and far between.
Malin showed scant regard for Glenswilly’s reputation early on and the Inishowen took the fight to the 2013 champions at every opportunity.
Setting up defensively, Malin were willing to sit back and draw Glenswilly onto them and then hit them on the break using the pace of Stephen and Brendan McLaughlin in the half-forward line to carve the openings.
nd by and large it worked a treat in the first half as time after time the packed Malin defence made life very difficult for Michael Murphy and company up front.
The Inishowen men also forced Glenswilly into poor shot selection resulting in six first half wides; something that was in stark contrast to Glenswilly’s champagne performance in last weekend’s 2-20 to 1-14 win over Sean MacCumhaills in the quarter-final.
Stephen McLaughlin got the Inishowen men off the mark with the game’s first score on six and a half minutes.
Glenswilly had to wait until the 12th minute for their first score and a Gary McFadden close in free after he had been fouled.
The Inishowen men, who were playing into the clubhouse goals and a stiff breeze blowing in their backs, led twice more took in the opening 21 minutes.
Christopher McLaughlin, with one of the scores of the game, kicked Malin’s second on 15 minutes. McLaughlin won possession out around the middle of the park on the Aura Leisure Centre side of the ground. He skipped his marker and with the turbo booster on he raced down the right wing before curling over from 30 metres for a 0-2 to 0-1 lead.
Glenswilly were enjoying the Lion’s share of possession and had chalked up four of their first half wides, before Michael Murphy converted from 35 metres to tie up the game at 0-2 each with 21 minutes on the clock.
But Malin were back in front shortly after when curled over from close range for a 0-3 to 0-2 Malin advantage.
Murphy responded almost instantly to tie up the game for a third time before Neill Gallagher worked himself into a good position for 0-4 to 0-3 advantage and the lead for the first time for Glenswilly.
That was on 25 minutes but in a flash Malin were back in front again courtesy of two quick points, one from a close in free after a good run from Stephen McLaughlin and the other a fine effort to polish off a sweeping move from play.
But thanks a close in Michael Murphy free, on the half hour mark, Glenswilly trooped off on level terms 0-5 each at half-time.
And with the wind in their backs to come in the second half of the two they would have been the slightly happier.
But they found themselves trailing again after Brendan McLaughlin converted from 13 metres after a great run by Stephen McLaughlin from deep in his own half; McLaughlin was fouled on the edge of the large rectangle. It was inches away from being a penalty.
Ahead 0-6 to 0-5, Malin had a chance to go two up but Brendan McLaughlin saw his fisted effort go wide of the top of the upright. .
McLaughlin also had a chance from a 44 metre free but into the breeze he forced his shot and it tailed off wide.
These were two big misses in quick succession and with Michael Canning making a number of changes Oisin Crawford got on the end of a good move to tie it up once more at 0-6 each with over 20 minutes remaining.
Glenswilly hit the front in the early seconds of the third quarter for only the second team when Neil Gallagher had a good second half knocked over for a 0-7 to 0-6 lead.
And the winners were two up on 52 minutes when Murphy pointed from play.
But the margin was back to one again in a flash courtesy of another Brendan McLaughlin close in free.
However that was a last hurrah for a gallant Malin and Neil Gallagher brought down the curtain with a late free.
The closing minutes were marred with two nasty scuffles involving players and mentors from both sides. At the end of the second, Malin’s Anthony Kelly was shown a second yellow card.
GLENSWILLY; James Gallagher; Cormac Callaghan, Eamon Ward, Ryan Diver; Ciaran Gibbons, Aidan McDevitt, Joe Gibbons; Neil Gallagher (0-2), Caolan Kelly; Oisin Crawford (0-1), Cathal Gallagher, Brian Farrelly; Keelan McFadden, Michael Murphy (0-4, 2f), Gary McFadden (0-2, 2f). Subs: Darren McGinley for B Farrelly 36, inj, Christopher McMonagle for K McFadden 40.
MALIN: Darragh McLaughlin; Mick McLaughlin, Damien Harkin, Gary Farren; Paul McLaughlin, Declan Walsh, Kieron McColgan; Anthony Kelly, Christopher McLaughlin (0-1); Stephen McLaughlin (0-1), Matthew Byrne, Darren Mullarkey; Adam Byrne, Seamus Houghton, Brendan McLaughlin (0-5, 3f ). Subs: Dan McDaid for D Mullarkey 46, Michael Byrne for S Houghton 51, Conor Farren for M McLaughlin 59.
REFEREE: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh)