Gaoth Dobhair ignited their Championship challenge and loosened Glenswilly’s grip on Dr Maguire all at the same time in Magheragallon this evening.
Gaoth Dobhair 1-7 Glenswilly 0-5
Cian Mulligan’s (pictured) first-half goal helped propel Gaoth Dobhair to victory in a game they daren’t have lost.
For them, it means they look set to go into the quarter-finals for the first time in five years, while Glenswilly are now in very real danger of heading for the exit.
The champions were lifeless here for long periods and the body language at the end told the story of a huddle that could almost sense what’s in store.
Were Gaoth Dobhair to defeat Ardara next weekend, Glenswilly will need to win and win well against Kilcar in Towney to keep their title defence alive.
Gaoth Dobhair, though, might just be on the cusp of making inroads, given that they won here with Naoise Ó Baoill, Micheál Carroll, Kevin Cassidy and the still-to-return Odhrán Mac Niallais absent from their number.
Gaoth Dobhair were struggling to break down the Glensiwlly wall, but when hey managed to get in behind in the 22nd minute they made it count.
Michael Murphy was dispossessed and Gaoth Dobhair broke with intent. Dáire Ó Baoill’s initial pass to Noel Kelly might have had a little too much elevation on it, but when Ó Baoill got the return, the possibilities were opening.
Ó Baoill played off the shoulder to Cian Mulligan, who lashed past Philip O’Donnell from 15 metres.
Two from James Carroll, one a free and the other a splendid strike from just shy of the ’45, stretched the margin, but Gary McFadden tapped over a free after Ciaran Bonner drew a foul from Christopher McFadden as he tore in from the right channel.
With half-time approaching, Eamonn Collum popped a tame effort into O’Donnell’s arms, but Gaoth Dobhair led 1-4 to 0-3 at the short whistle.
It was a game that didn’t live up to its billing and the huge crowd that converged to the famous sod waited for the pot to boil.
Glenswilly had Caolan Kelly and Gary McFadden black carded in the second half, but feisty moments were rare in what was a strangely tepid affair between two of the heavyweights.
Carroll, with his fourth free of the game, put Gaoth Dobhair four ahead again but Murphy, delightfully spinning over off his left foot, got off the mark with a score that few others could have managed. It would be Murphy’s only score of the night.
Glenswilly just didn’t spark to life and Collum, following a high-octane Gaoth Dobhair break, got his coordinates right to put five between them.
Collum might have put daylight in it but, after being laced through by Mulligan, he was denied by O’Donnell.
For Glenswilly, with the points difference in mind, it was just as well.
Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Christopher McFadden; Danny Curran, Kieran Gillespie, Jamie Reynolds; Odhrán Ferry-McFadden, Eamon McGee; Cian Mulligan, James Carroll, Dáire Ó Baoill; Niall Friel, Noel Kelly, Eamonn Collum. Subs: Peter McGee for C.McFadden (48), James Gallagher for Collum (60), Conor McCafferty for Kelly (60).
Glenswilly: Philip O’Donnell; Paddy McFadden, Eamonn Ward, Ryan Diver; Oisin Crawford, Aidan McDevitt, Joe Gibbons; Michael Murphy, Leon Kelly; Gary McFadden, Cathal Gallagher, Brian Farrelly; Kealan McFadden, Leon Kelly, Ciaran Bonner. Subs: Caoimhin Marley for C.Kelly (black card, 48), Ciaran Gibbons for K.McFadden (55), Connor Boyce for G.McFadden (60).
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs).