CLOUGHANEELY CAME FROM nine points down to grab a draw thanks to a Shaun McGarvey goal from a 21-metre free with the last kick of the game against Ardara.
Ardara 0-13 Cloughaneely 2-7
The inquest into this one will go on for a long time in Ardara, who were in a completely dominant position in the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC relegation play-off but lost control against the Falcarragh-based team, who had John McGarvey dismissed following a second yellow card in the closing stages in Glenswilly.
There was uncertainty at the conclusion over extra-time or not but it was soon confirmed that a replay would be needed.
Cloughaneely were without Denis Boyle – injured in the warm-up – and were already minus Kevin Mulhern, Kevin McFadden and the honeymooning Sean Maguire and they looked all at sea.
Ardara were 0-4 to 0-0 up on 13 minutes, with Stefan Boyle, CJ Molloy, Nicolas Maguire and Brendan Boyle the early point-scorers. Fourteen minutes in Eugene Maguire raised a first white flag for Cloughaneely.
That was merely a brief deterrent to John McConnell’s Ardara as the spun off six points in a row to go 0-10 to 0-1 up by the 24th minute, with Stefan Boyle adding four, Brendan Boyle and Molloy scoring.
The sea change wasn’t that obvious to begin with as John Paul Sweeney’s Cloughaneely did finish the half competently, with three successive points – Shaun Maguire, Eugene Maguire and Darren Ferry – and went in 0-10 to 0-4 down at half-time.
Again, though, it looked as though there wasn’t going to be an issue as Martin Shovlin and Ryan Malley posted the first two points of the second half, leaving it an eight-point game.
Paul Sweeney was thrown into the fray as Cloughaneely faced up the cliff but the substitute made an immediate impact. After a Declan McGarvey point, Sweeney beat Declan Gallagher, the Ardara goalkeeper, to the punch for a 42nd minute Cloughaneely goal.
That made it 0-12 to 1-5 and from the next play, Sweeney got in for a one-on-one with Gallagher only to trickle the shot wide of the post.
However, Sweeney made up for that miss with the next two points and by the 52nd minute, the momentum of the contest had shifted from one side to the other, 0-12 to 1-7 down.
That’s partially because of the poor shooting of Ardara, which kicked seven wides in a row at a stage in the game when they needed settling. Having lost to Dungloe in the group stages of the championship 2-7 to 0-12 against Dungloe after squandering an eight-point lead, there was considerable doubt creeping into Ardara’s play.
However, it seemed as though the nerves were settled when Molloy popped over a free with four minutes left – it was Ardara’s first point in 20 minutes.
That’s how it looked as though it would end but as supporters were tricking out of the ground, referee Shaun McLaughlin awarded a close-range free.
Three points down and with little option, Shaun McGarvey’s drop-kicked effort flew in off the underside of the crossbar with half the Ardara team on the line.
They will meet again.
Ardara: Declan Gallagher; Oisin O’Donnell, Declan Gavigan, Nicolas Maguire (0-1); Paddy Mcgrath, Kenneth Doherty, John Ros Molloy; Brendan Boyle (902), Conor Classon; Kieran Breslin, Peter Oliver McNelis, Martin Shovlin (0-1); CJ Molloy (0-4, 1f), Stefan Boyle (0-4, 1f), Ryan Malley (0-1). Subs: Tomás Boyle for McNelis (half-time), Kevin Whyte for Shovlin (45), Kevin Harron for Malley (59).
Cloughaneely: Shaun McClafferty; Shane Gallagher, Joe Harley, Ciaran McGeady; Leigh O’Brien, Paddy Cannon, Cian McFadden; Jason McGee, Ciaran Scanlon; Darren Ferry (0-1), Shaun McGarvey (1-1, 1-1f), Eugene Maguire (0-2); John McGarvey, John Fitzgerald, Cillian Gallagher. Subs: Declan McGarvey (0-1) for S Gallagher (15), Paul Sweeney for C Gallagher (37), Ciaran McFadden (1-2) for Cannon (37), Paul McFadden for O’Brien (51).
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin (Malin)