Twenty years ago, in September 1998, a previously unheard of forward hit 1-4 as Aodh Ruadh won the Donegal senior football championship.
Michael ‘Sticky’ Ward was the hero of the hour for the Ernesiders as they defeated Naomh Columba 1-11 to 0-11 – handing Glen a remarkable sixth senior final of the 1990s.
Aodh Ruadh have been operating at Intermediate level since 2011, but this Sunday’s Intermediate final against Glenfin offers the chance to take a return ticket into the senior ranks again.
Aodh Ruadh are in the final after three semi-final losses in a row. After a nervy win over Naomh Columba on Saturday, the Ballyshannon outfit are an hour away from a senior return – and Ward continues to roll back the years.
It looked like his time with seniors had been and gone, but he played 20 minutes of the semi-final and it would be no surprise if he had a calling card to leave in Ballybofey – 20 years on from his greatest hour.
“He’s a very cool head to bring on and that experience is very important,” Aodh Ruadh manager James O’Donnell says.
“He gave us a serious effort last year. He played in 95 per cent of the games. He took it really hard when we lost the semi-final last year.
“He couldn’t commit fully this year. He’s working away and has a young family. He was concentrating a bit on the Donegal Masters. I always left the door open and it was always going to be his decision. You could see he wanted to come back in.”
Aodh Ruadh, who lost the 2012 final against Termon, will be without David Dolan, who suffered a cracked bone in his foot in the quarter-final win over Gaeil Fhánada.
‘A massive loss’, is how O’Donnell describes his absence, but no other major concerns are reported.
O’Donnell says: “We believe that if we can put in a performance that things will go our way.”Tags: