JUST like the first meeting between these two sides earlier in the season, Seán Mac Cumhaills once again had to dig deep and pulled off a sterling second half performance to come back from 4 points down going in at half time.
Seán Mac Cumhaills 3-13 Ardara 2-12
In fact, Mac Cumhaills had to settle going into half time with all their scores coming from frees. In a thrilling game which would produce 5 well worked and taken goals also offered plenty of fine scoring and battles across the field the points could have went to either side at the end, such was the close and tense nature of this game.
Gavin Gallagher scores a decisive goal for his side. Photo – Chris Doherty
Mac Cumhaills took the lead just 2 minutes in when Benny McLaughlin converted a free he had won but Ardara seized the game at the early stages and went 3 points to 1 up with scores from Lorcan O’Donnell, CJ Molloy (frees) and Thomas Boyle from play after the home side lost a kickout.
A further attempt from Ardara was well dealt with by Mac Cumhaills corner back Adam Lynch who intercepted a pass from Molloy. On 9 minutes Mac Cumhaills got their second score from Stephen Mulligan just inside the 45’ but Ardara were getting their chances and earned another free but Molloy’s effort fell short into the home side keeper’s grateful hands and from here Mac Cumhaills would launch an attack from captain Steven O’Reilly, who would find Darren O’Leary and a fine pass into Benny McLaughlin would attract another foul, which Mulligan would convert.
Just coming up to the 15 minute mark the Ardara powerhouse CJ Molloy would fire over a fine score from play but Mac Cumhaills responded with a free from Darren O’Leary, whose dead ball expertise was vital in the game. Ardara, looking the more dominant side early on, kept pushing but efforts Steven O’Reilly’s diving block and Adam Lynch winning possession would avert another score.
On 21 minutes Ardara went 1 point ahead again through Peter Mc Hugh’s point from play but Mac Cumhaills replied again when Marty Gallagher’s surge up the field found Aaron Kelly who burst through the lines at pace but was brought down for a free which Mulligan converted.
Keeping to the nature of the game, it was now Ardara’s turn to attack and Conor Classon had to break through a few challenges to get his shot off, but it lacked the height and direction and went wide.
Ardara got a major breakthrough when their midfielder Jimmy O’Connell rattled the back of the home team’s net with less than 5 minutes to go before half time and things looked worrying for the home side again when interlink play between Nicolas Maguire and CJ Molloy was causing worry but Mac Cumhaill’s player John Lynch made the necessary tackle and won possession.
A free from Molloy and point from play from Lorcan O’Donnell put the visitors into a 5 point lead with the 30 minutes played and a Darren O’Leary free into injury time took the gap down to 4 points.
Whatever was said at half time in the home team’s changing room must have worked as a sharper and more determined side emerged for the second half. Ardara recorded the first score of the half from a free converted by CJ Molloy but Mac Cumhaills hopes were raised when a scramble around the goalmouth could have went in.
The goal game shortly after when fine work by Gavin “Fireman” Gallagher offloaded to substitute Oisin Gallen and he found Aaron Kelly who superbly rifled it past Ciaran Gildea in the Ardara’s nets and hope was kindled for the home side. Molloy from a free would put his side back into a 3 point lead but Mac Cumhaills would hit the next 3 scores to start putting their own stamp on the game.
Darren O’Leary won possession of the ball and had to ride a few challenges but would compose himself to slot over a fine score and Oisin Gallen’s long range effort beat the win to nestle between the posts and it was now a one point game. O’Leary had a chance to level soon after but his free would fail to swing in and Oisin Gallen’s effort was also found wanting.
12 minutes into the second half Mac Cumhaills had hit goal number two, Fine play involving Steven O’Reilly and Gary Wilson would result in Gavin “Fireman” Gallagher slotting home a vital goal for his side. This was the first time Mac Cumhaills had taken the lead in the game and a renewed vigour was ebbing from the team.
Ardara responded well and would hit the next two scores from play from Lorcan O’Donnell and a fine strike by Conor Classon with 15 minutes remaining. Aaron Kelly whose running at pace was causing the visitors problems all afternoon was fouled and from the resulting free taken expertly off the ground, O’Leary converted.
Ardara kept pushing and probing for openings but Gary Dunnion’s positioning was vital to intercept two Ardara efforts. Mac Cumhaills soon found themselves in for goal but Chad Mc Sorley’s effort was put out for a 45’ which O’Leary converted. The visitors had better luck in their attack on goal and Lorcan O’Donnell’s effort would beat Chris Patton in the Mac Cumhaill’s nets and Ardara were ahead again by 1 point.
Mac Cumhaills had another two chances to point but Gallen’s effort fell short and an O’Leary free would go wide. Keeping composure Oisin Gallen made amends and would point a fine score from play. Substitute Kyle Gallagher replied for Ardara but things were looking good for Mac Cumhaills when a Gavin Gallagher ball in on top of the keeper resulted in O’Leary forcing the ball over the line for goal number 3 which would put his side 2 points head with 3 minutes of the normal time to go.
Another O’Leary converted free off the ground and an Aaron Kelly point from play extended the lead to 4 points. Ardara were in for a goal chance in the last minute but not willing to take any chance Mac Cumhaills defender cleared the ball out for a 45’ which the visitors would fail to convert.
Sean Mac Cumhaills: Christopher Patton, Christopher Gallagher, Martin Gallagher, Adam Lynch, John Lynch, Ronan McMenamin, Aaron Kelly (1-1), Gavin Gallagher (1-0), Gary Dunnion, Gary Wilson, Steven O’Reilly, Benny McLaughlin (0-1, 1f), Stephen Mulligan (0-3, 3f), Darren O’Leary (1-6, 4f, 1 45’), Shane Duffy. Subs: Oisin Gallen (0-2) for Stephen Mulligan, Luke Gavigan for Shane Duffy, Chad Mc Sorley for Benny McLaughlin
Ardara: Ciaran Gildea; Brian Whyte, Tony Harkin, Joe Melly, Paul Watters, Brendan Boyle, Nicolas Maguire, Conor Classon (0-1), Jimmy O’Connell (1-0), Lorcan O’Donnell (1-3 1f), Tomas Boyle (0-1), Michael Maloney, Peter McHugh (0.1), CJ Molloy (0-5 4f), Kevin Breslin. Sub: Kyle Gallagher (0-1) for Brendan Boyle.
Referee: James Connors (St. Eunans)