MICHAEL MURPHY once again rose to the big occasion to propel Glenswilly to their third Donegal SFC triumph.
Glenswilly 1-10 Kilcar 0-12
Murphy scored 1-5 on another majestic hour during which Glenswilly made light of the 6/1 odds to upset the form book and deny Kilcar a slice of glory.
Murphy, as he has done so often, lit the touch paper at MacCumhaill Park as Glenswilly played out their plan perfectly.
A defensive screen was cemented along the ’45 and Kilcar, looking every inch a nervy outfit in their first final since 1993, had no answer to that or Murphy’s magic.
The goal arrived in the tenth minute.
The move was right out of a familiar playbook: Neil Gallagher with the long punt from midfield in towards Murphy who nudged Conor McShane aside before slamming to the net.
The ball in would, ordinarily, be considered a Haily Mary hit-and-hope, but where these are concerned it’s a rehearsed routine.
The goal had Glenswilly 1-2 to 0-1 ahead and Kilcar, with the nerves pouring from them, were finding chinks in the Glenswilly armour nigh on impossible to find.
Murphy capitalised on a slip by McShane to put Glenswilly 1-7 to 0-6 ahead at the changeover and it was apparent that Kilcar were struggling to curb his powers.
Glenswilly might’ve had a goal even earlier, though they were denied what seemed a penalty when Cormac Callaghan was pulled to the turf as he weaved his way through.
Callaghan was a lively and useful outlet for Glenswilly as the punched the holes to inch away, spurred by that golden goal from Murphy.
Kilcar scored just one point in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, that the opening score of the afternoon off the boot of Stephen McBrearty.
Murphy drilled over a free to level it and nailed a ’45 before bagging that precious, priceless goal.
Patrick McBrearty and Conor Doherty brought Kilcar to life on rare moments when they managed to breach Glenswilly’s wall of steel.
Gallagher fed Brian Farrelly for a neat score before Ciaran Gibbons’ skyscraper restored the four-point cushion.
A delightful 45-metre free by Murphy soared the mercury again and the impossible seemed very possible as they parted ways at the break.
Kilcar were out almost five minutes before Glenswilly, who arrived back out to howls of derision from the Kilcar hoardes on the terraces, and it was the Towney men who started the sharper.
It was game on when Kilcar hit three in quick succession, including wonderful long-range scores by Ryan McHugh and Michael Hegarty, to come to within a point,
But Murphy continued to beat the Glenswilly drum, setting substitute Ciaran Bonner for a fisted point that might well have yielded a goal and a free from the man of the moment widened the gap again.
Kilcar kicked the game away in periods, with five second-half wides contributing significantly to their tale of woe.
Glenswilly scored just once in the final 20 minutes, Ciaran Gibbons getting forward for his second point of the day, but they were able to manage the game to a tee.
A McBrearty free and a fabulous curling point from Mark Sweeney raised the hopes and a replay looked on the cards at one stage, but Glenswilly held what they had and took receipt of Dr Maguire for a third, glorious time.
A late, hopeful free by McBrearty dropped into Neil Gallagher’s grateful arms.
The reaction at the end said it all: Murphy leaping into the joyous figure of his father, Mick, and Glenswilly erupting as one after this, perhaps the best of all.
Last month, they were quoted as far out as 16/1, but they tore up the script in emphatic fashion for their third final win and for the third time Murphy collected the Man of the Match award.
Man of the Match and Man of the Moment.
Kilcar: Eamonn McGinley; Stephen Shovlin, Conor McShane, Pauric Carr; Patrick Gallagher, Mark McHugh, Ryan McHugh (0-3, 2f); Ciaran McGinley, Michael Hegarty (0-1); Eoin McHugh, Stephen McBrearty (0-1, 1f), Andrew McClean; Conor Doherty (0-1), Patrick McBrearty (0-5, 4f), Matthew McClean. Subs: Dara O’Donnell for M.McClean (45), Mark Sweeney for Doherty (49).
Glenswilly: James Gallagher; Paddy McFadden, Eamon Ward, Ryan Diver; Ciaran Gibbons (0-2), Aidan McDevitt, Joe Gibbons; Neil Gallagher, Caolan Kelly; Cormac Callaghan, Cathal Gallagher, Brian Farrelly (0-1); Oisin Crawford, Michael Murphy (1-5, 3f, 1 ’45), Gary McFadden (0-1, 1f). Subs: Ciaran Bonner for Crawford (34), Darren McGinley (0-1) for Farrelly (black card, 51).
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin (Malin).