Gaoth Dobhair and Kilcar players tussle for possession Picture: Thomas Gallagher
Reigning champions Gaoth Dobhair found their form to overcome favourites Kilcar with an accomplished performance in the Michael Murphy Sports Donegal senior championship semi-final in Ballybofey.
Gaoth Dobhair 3-8
Goals were the key with Gaoth Dobhair getting one in the first half and then striking within a minute of the restart.
And when Kilcar were threatening to come back Kevin Cassidy hit the third with six minutes left to seal the issue.
Once again Odhrán Mac Niallais was a joy to watch for the winners, who were strong all over the field, with Dáire Ó Baoill keeping them on the front foot throughout.
Patrick McBrearty did his best to get Kilcar going, but on this day they played second fiddle for most of the contest. It was surprising that they didn't use one substitute and overall they can have no complaints. Gaoth Dobhair had the physical edge on them and they also used their experience to boss the game for long periods.
On a day borrowed from the summer in the Algarve, 5,400 were present to witness what was being termed the game of the year.
The sides shared four points in the opening seven minutes but then it became a very cagey affair for the next seven.
Matthew McClean hit the frst two points in four minutes, but then Gaoth Dobhair hit back througyh Niall Friel and an Eamonn Collum free.
Patrick McBrearty (free after Ryan McHugh was fouled) and from play edged Kilcar two ahead again by the 16th minute but they wouldn't score again until added time at the end of the half.
In between Gaoth Dobhair took a grip around midfield. There was a big turning point on 21 mintues. Pauric Carr, who made a miraculous recovery from 'a fractured ankle' to start for Kilcar, got inside the Gaoth Dobhair defence but he had nobody to cross to. Gaoth Dobhair went up the field and Cian Mulligan cut through on an almost similar run and his cross to the back post found Eamonn Collum to palm home.
Gaoth Dobhair built on the lead with quick points from Kevin Cassidy and Odhran MacNiallais from a free.
In added time Patrick McBrearty won a free which was moved on and McBrearty fired over to leave the half-time score - Gaoth Dobhair 1-4, Kilcar 0-5.
Gaoth Dobhair had a blistering start to the second half with a goal from Dáire Ó Baoill on 31 seconds. Odhrán Mac Niallais and Eamon McGee were involved in the build-up with McGee releasing Ó Baoill and he drove to the roof of Eamonn McGinley's net. Immediately Mac Niallaias added a point for a six point advantage.
Mark McHugh replied with a free and by the 38th minute the margin was down to three again with good points from Eoin McHugh and Stephen McBrearty. Patrick McBrearty cut the lead to two before Naoise Ó Baoill replied. This point was disputed with the umpires Thomas McBrearty and John Murrin disagreeing. But after consulting both Jimmy White allowed the score.
Patrick McBrearty and Odhrán Mac Niallais traded scores - two of the best you would see in any game - in the space of 30 seconds.
Andrew McClean cut the lead to two again with nine minutes left, but then Gaoth Dobhair struck for a third goal on 54 minutes. A free from Mac Niallais was short and Kevin Cassidy fielded well and swivelled to fire low to the net and a 3-7 to 0-11 lead.
Mark McHugh converted a '45' but Mac Niallais flicked on the kick-out to Dáire Ó Baoill and he went forward before finding Cian Mulligan to fire over.
Kilcar tried to the end but they could get no change from a teak tough Gaoth Dobhair defence.
GAOTH DOBHAIR: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Kieran Gillespie; Niall Friel (0-1), Donal McBride, Dáire Ó Baoill (1-0); Michael Carroll, Eamon McGee; Odhrán McFadden Ferry, Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-3,1f), Naoise Ó Baoill (0-1); Cian Mulligan (0-1), Kevin Cassidy (1-1), Eamonn Collum (1-1,1f). Subs: Gavin McBride for Collum 56; Peter McGee for McBride 58; Seaghan Ferry for N Ó Baoill 59; Christopher McFadden for McFadden Ferry 60
KILCAR: Eamonn McGinley; Barry McGinley, Conor McShane, Pauric Carr; Andrew McClean (0-1), Michael Hegarty, Brian O'Donnell; Mark McHugh (0-2,f,'45'), Ciaran McGinley; Ryan McHugh, Conor Doherty, Eoin McHugh (0-1); Matthew McClean (0-2), Patrick McBrearty (0-5,2f), Stephen McBrearty (0-1).
REFEREE: Jimmy White (Killybegs)