Ardara on their way out to play Aodh Ruadh in Fr. Tierney Park
Ardara ended Aodh Ruadh's perfect league record in a very entertaining shoot-out at Fr. Tierney Park.
Aodh Ruadh 1-18
Ardara were just more clinical than the home side. That was the main difference between the sides. The other major difference was the introduction of Ryan Malley at half-time. Malley gave Ardara the impetus that was lacking in their link-up play and caused the Aodh Ruadh defence many problems.
But hats off to all the players. Ardara had the greater physique and in the end that was a telling factor. They were without county player Paddy McGrath, but otherwise had a full deck.
Aodh Ruadh were without the influential David Dolan, who injured his ankle last week, while Philip Patton was nursing a dead leg. Johnny Gallagher was another injury absentee while Colm Kelly had headed to the US.
But then you have to add that Ardara lost Kenneth Doherty to a shoulder injury after just 14 minutes. Another veteran Brendan Boyle was an influential part of the victory from midfield, hitting two points while Gareth Concarr missed little.
The win pushes Ardara up to second in the table and they look determined to get back up to the top flight once again.
Ardara got off to a whirlwind start with 1-2 on the board after five minutes with Aodh Ruadh being troubled by the strength of CJ Molloy at full-forward.
CJ had the opening score from a free on three minutes and Kenneth Doherty added a second before Seamus Kane lost possession around the '45' and Ardara punished with Gareth Concarr finding CJ Molloy. Peter Boyle did well to stop his effort but the ball rebounded upwards and CJ fisted to the net.
It took a Peter Boyle free from fully 55m to get Aodh Ruadh off the mark on eight minutes. They almost had a goal a minute later but David McGurrin was denied by the crossbar before Molloy won and pointed another free at the other end.
Aodh Ruadh got back in the game when Damien Cleary found the Ardara net after a sweeping move started by David McGurrin.
McGurrin quickly added a free but then Aodh Ruadh were rocked by a second goal, Lorcan O'Donnell being given a free run on goal and he squeezed the ball past Peter Boyle at the near post.
Aodh Ruadh had another goal chance on 23 minutes when a Michael Sticky Ward effort for a point was feeble but the Ardara 'keeper fumbled and Darren Drummond palmed goalwards but the 'keeper made amends. The ball rebounded and Damien Cleary fired it just over the crossbar.
Ardara then hit two points inside 30 seconds from Brendan McNelis and Brendan Boyle punishing a poor kick-out from Peter Boyle.
But again Aodh Ruadh responded with three points in quick succession from David McGurrin, Darren Drummond and another Peter Boyle long range free.
In added time Gareth Concarr (free) and Nathan Boyle traded points to leave two points in it at the break, Aodh Ruadh 1-7, Ardara 2-6.
Brendan Boyle had the opening point of the second half for Ardara but David McGurrin cut the deficit to one with two quick points.
But then the Aodh Ruadh defence was opened as Ryan Malley was on hand to take a quick free and he ghosted in before crossing for Gareth Concarr to palm home the third goal. Concarr added a point immediately to put Ardara five clear after 36 minutes - 3-8 to 1-9.
But again Aodh Ruadh responded with points from Nathan Boyle, two from Michael Sticky Ward and Darren Drummond to be just one in arrears on 40 minutes.
Nathan Boyle was almost in at one end but was called for overcarrying before Peter Boyle made a great save at the other end - it was that type of game. Boyle saved from Ryan Malley but Ardara won the rebound and Malley pointed.
Jason Granaghan again cut the deficit to one but Malley was on target again at the other end.
Then two David McGurrin frees had Aodh Ruadh level for the first time in the game on 50 minutes.
Gareth Concarr and Brendan McNelis pushed Ardara two clear once more, but McGurrin from a free and Diarmuid McInerney levelled with a minute left.
McNelis was black carded for Ardara and when referee Robbie O'Donnell awarded CJ Molloy a rather soft free, Michael Sticky Ward was also shown black by the referee for his reaction. Gareth Concarr pointed the free with the game in added time. Concarr added an insurance point two minutes later and was then black carded himself as he tried to stop play from the kick-out.
But Ardara had done enough and there was a mild celebration at the final whistle of an absorbing contest.
AODH RUADH: Peter Boyle (0-2,2f); Callum O'Halloran, Damien Cleary (1-1), Cian McGloin; Jason Granaghan (0-1), Eamonn McGrath, Daniel Warnock; Sean Taylor, Conor Patton; David McGurrin (0-6,3f), Shane McGrath, Nathan Boyle (0-2); Shane Dorrian, Darren Drummond (0-2), Seamus Kane. Subs., Michael Sticky Ward (0-3) for Kane 22; Diarmuid McInerney (0-1) for Dorrian 34; Seamus Kane for M Ward bcard 60
ARDARA: Cathal Gallagher; Oisin O'Donnell, Declan Gavigan, Brian White; John Ross Molloy, Kenneth Doherty (0-1), Danny Walsh; Conal Boomer, Brendan Boyle (0-2); Brendan McNelis (0-2), Gareth Concarr (1-5,2f), Kieran Breslin; Peter McHugh, CJ Molloy (1-2,2f), Lorcan O'Donnell (1-0). Subs., Nicholas Maguire for K Doherty 14; Ryan Malley (0-2) for Boomer ht; Johnny Herron for Gavigan 45; Jimmy O'Connell for McHugh 51; Paul Watters for Breslin 54; Conal Boomer for McNelis bcard 58.
REFEREE: Robbie O'Donnell (Naomh Muire)