Glenswilly begin title defence with defeat of Ardara

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GLENSWILLY ARE OFF the mark in Group C of the Michael Murphy Sports & Leisure SFC with a hard earned win over Ardara.

Glenswilly 0-15 Ardara 1-7

By Frank Craig, PRO 

The reigning champions’ five-point victory doesn’t really reflect just how hard Aidy McGlackin’s outfit had to work at certain junctures here. At times, they threatened to run away with things but there were also moments that Ardara showed real desire to reel them back in.

Despite being shy some of their most experienced operators, Ardara opened like they meant business as the impressive CJ Molloy and Gareth Concarr lobbed over frees. On nine minutes, the hosts finally stirred as Ciaran Bonner, another player who had a real stormer, and Neil Gallagher soon after squared matters.

Just as this one appeared to be settling into a real contest disaster struck for Adrian Brennan’s charges as they lost Paddy McGrath to a black card. McGrath, sweeping in front of his Donegal teammate Michael Murphy (pictured above by Geraldine Diver), just got there first to a dangerous ball directed inside to the Glen talisman.

Both men in their efforts to arrive there first took a tumble. Murphy’s momentum meant that he rolled onto his feet first and collected the loose ball in the process. Instinctively but carelessly, McGrath’s first reaction was to reach for his opponent’s ankle.

That left referee James Connors with little option but to flash a black card. That seemed like it would prove to be the definitive turning point here as the Glen added another five scores to go along with their previous two to eventually make it a massive and uninterrupted seven on the bounce for last year’s Dr. Maguire winners.

Gary McFadden grabbed three of those including two from play while Bonner and Murphy (free) also hit the mark. Rattled, Ardara appeared to steady themselves thanks to another Concarr free. McFadden was again offered too much room as he traded passes with Leon Kelly close to goal and clipped over just before Brian Whyte could arrive to distract him.

Before half-time, Molloy from a free and Murphy were again on the mark. But it was Glenswilly that exited at the midpoint with a commanding five-point upper hand.

Half-time: Glenswilly 0-9:0-4 Ardara. 

A spectacular opening to the second stanza from the visitors – when Molloy riffled in a stunning goal just 10 seconds in – once again blew matters wide open. Concarr instantly added a free and all of a sudden Ardara were back to within the absolute minimum of the leaders’ coattails.

Simon Breslin had done brilliantly from the initial throw-in to out muscle Gallagher before off loading to the galloping Molloy. He travelled all the way in to about 25m before unleashing a ferocious drive that nestled sweetly in the top corner of the net.

With 1-5 now playing 0-9, the experienced duo of Murphy and McFadden both gave their side a little extra breathing space with well converted frees. With Ardara again on the verge of drifting out of contention, young guns Lorcan O’Donnell and Jack ‘Sparrow’ Brennan intervened to sail over and again reduce arrears to just a single point.

With Murphy uncharacteristically off cue from a placed ball, Glenswilly suddenly looked disorientated and possibly there for the taking. But a rushed dispatch from Ardara ‘keeper Cathal Gallagher presented Murphy with the instant chance to make amends for his previous error.

Heading down the stretch, Glenswilly’s superior know-how and indeed class finally told as they closed out matters through Murphy (free) and another pair of Bonner points to eventually cross the line by a five-point margin.

Glenswilly: Phillip O’Donnell; Ruairi Crawford, Eamon Ward, Paddy McFadden; Ryan Hunter, Aidan McDevitt, Joe Gibbons; Neil Gallagher (0-1), Leon Kelly; Oisin Crawford, Ciaran Bonner (0-4), Caoimhin Marley; Gary McFadden (0-5,2f), Michael Murphy (0-5,3f), Caolan Kelly. Subs: Ciaran Gibbons for R Hunter (19), Caolan McFadden for C Marley (58), Conor Boyce for P McFadden (60+5).

Ardara: Cathal Gallagher; Paddy McGrath Nicolas Breslin, Kelvin Slowey; Brian Whyte, John Ross Molloy, Nicolas Maguire; Simon Breslin, Ryan Malley; Paul Watters, Oisin O’Donnell, Lorcan O’Donnell (0-1); Gareth Concarr (0-3,3f), CJ Molloy (1-2,2f), Kieran Breslin. Subs: Johnny Herron for P McGrath (14, black card), Brendan McNelis for Nicolas Breslin (22), Kevin Herron for K Slowey (39), Jack Brennan (0-1) for Simon Breslin (40).

Referee: James Connors (St. Eunan’s).

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