Aodh Ruadh were one of the favourites before a ball was kicked in this year’s Donegal Intermediate Championship, and remain favourites to win Sunday’s decider with Glenfin in MacCumhaill Park.
The Ernesiders were comfortable winners of their group with victories over Gaeil Fhánada, Naomh Muire, Lower Rosses and Downings.
And they overcame Gaeil Fhánada for a second time in the quarter-final before disposing of a strong Naomh Columba in the semi-final last weekend.
On Sunday, they face a young and emerging Glenfin who are in the final on merit. They have taken a number of notable scalps on their way to the decider including Cloughaneely, in the group stages and St Naul’s in last Sunday’s semi-final.
Brian McCabe, former St Naul’s player and manager, who guided St Naul’s to Intermediate championship success, had picked out Aodh Ruadh as one of the leading contenders at the start of the championship.
“I always felt Aodh Ruadh were going to make the final,” he said.
“I know they struggled in Division One and were relegated, but they were never too far off the pace in any of their games in the league.
“I felt the season in Division One and playing at a higher level would stand to them. I watched them last Sunday against Naomh Columba in the semi-final and I was very impressed with them in the first half, although they lost their way a bit in the last ten minutes or so and allowed Naomh Columba into the game.
“They were well in front going into the last quarter and probably took the foot off the pedal. But they still held on and won comfortably enough, though if Naomh Columba had scored the goal a little earlier, it could have been an interesting finish.
“But overall Aodh Ruadh were much the better team. They are a big physical side and I was amazed at the number of times they turned over Naomh Columba in the tackle.
“Shane McGrath scored 2-1 against Naomh Columba and is the best forward in the Intermediate championship. I know they have lost David Dolan with a broken leg but I was also impressed with Oisin Rooney at centre forward. He hasn’t played a lot in the championship so far but he had a fine game against Naomh Columba.”
Glenfin clinched their place in the final with 0-7 to 0-6 win against St Naul's at a wet and windswept Pearse Park on Sunday.
“Glenfin got a right good result against St Naul's,” McCabe said.
“They were four points down and they came back in the second half to win it in the closing minutes. They held St Naul’s scoreless in the second half.
“Andrew Walsh converted a’ 45 to tie up the game and Paddy O’Connor kicked the winner also from a free, deep in injury time. By all accounts they showed great heart and spirit.
“Frank McGlynn is a big man for them and leads from the front. I’ve watched them a few times this year and I have been impressed with Andrew Walsh in goals. He seems to have everything required for a modern goalkeeper.
“They are well organised at the back and they have three class forwards in Stephen Carr, and Jason Morrow in the half forward line and Gerard Ward is a good inside forward.
“They will be dogged and they will never say die. They will play to the final whistle. But I still feel Aodh Ruadh are the better balanced side and the experience of playing at the higher level will stand to them.”
Verdict: Aodh Ruadh