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Aodh Ruadh too much for depleted Ardara

RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta senior football championship
Preliminary round play-off.

2 June 2007
Aodh Ruadh 1-10
Ardara 0-06
Sean Perry reports from Tir Chonaill Park, Donegal town.

As if it wasn't bad enough to be without Damian Diver, Stephen McHugh and Brendan Boyle, Ardara were also deprived of the services of flu-victim, Eamon Doherty prior to throw-in leaving them with the odds stacked against them to reach the first round proper of this year's championship.

The Ballyshannon men by contrast had the stylish Stephen Ward back in the panel to directly replace his suspended brother, Barry, while Brian Roper was back at full throttle and ready and willing to torment.

Following two intense battles, Saturday afternoon's game in Tir Chonaill Park was eagerly anticipated with football in the county on a high following Donegal's start to 2007.

It was Ardara who began brightest however, playing into a stern breeze whipped from Donegal Bay, they worked the ball well to the Ballyshannon '45 but their finishing let them down after clever approach play.

Only two points separated the sides when the powerful Seamus Kane won a swirling kickout before setting off to goal from the wing after 22 minutes. Having been closed out for an earlier goal chance, the corner forward had only one plan, that was to rattle the back of the net and that he did, sliding the ball under Conor Curran. The deadly two man full-forward line of captain, Michael Ward and Kane tagged on two further points before the break to put Aodh Ruadh six to the good at the interval.

The burning question at half-time was whether a six point disparity would be enough with the significant wind factor.

Brian Roper used his innate guile to win a clever free early in the second half which Pauric Buggy converted, the popular county player then converted his own chance to leave Ardara reeling and eight behind when it was they who were supposed to mount a comeback.

Eamon Doherty and both Brendan and Jonathan Boyle were thrust into action as Paddy Gallagher and Kevin Byrne hinted at an Ardara renaissance with decent points.

Bulky substitute, Michael Gurn hit back for Aodh Ruadh as the Ballyshannon defence looked comfortable and composed under the Ardara aerial onslaught. Patrick McGrath, Darren Drummond and Eamonn O'Donnell broke up attack after attack as the outcome became inevitable. Ciron Whoriskey, Thomas McPhelim and Philip O'Reilly were used as willing workers to ferry the ball to the attack.

Aodh Ruadh finished with the last two points of the game but not before a goalmouth flurry which saw Jonathan Boyle hit the post with his shot as Ardara sought an elusive goal. The Ballyshannon men threw bodies everywhere and with tempers spilling over for the second game in succession, Thomas McPhelim and Derek Boyle were both given an early bath right at the death.

The Erne-siders clear the first hurdle in the championship for the first time since 2004, a tie against Cloughaneely now awaits the Ballyshannon men later this month.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
David Greene; Darren Drummond, Eamonn O'Donnell; Thomas McPhelim, Patrick McGrath, Philip O'Reilly; Kerry Ryan, Stephen Ward; Brian Roper (0-1), Donagh McIntyre, Niall McCready; Barry Mulligan, Michael Ward (0-4), Seamus Kane (1-2, 1 free).
Pauric Buggy (0-2, 1 free) for McIntyre (23), Michael Gurn (0-1) for Ryan (40), Garret Blake for Mulligan (57), John Duffy for Kane (62), Conor Gurn (65) for S Ward.
Conor Curran; Seamus Byrne, Declan Gallagher, Oisin O'Donnell; Johnny Herron, Kenneth Doherty, Paddy McGrath; Francis Diver (0-1), Kevin Byrne (0-1); Michael Doherty, Gareth Concarr, Paddy Gallagher (0-2); Stephen Gildea (0-1, 1 free), Aodh Brennan, Kieran Breslin.
Derek Boyle for Breslin (h-t) Eamon Doherty for Brennan (37), Brendan Boyle for McGrath (48), Jonathan Boyle for Gildea (55), Declan Gavigan for O'Donnell (58).
Jimmy White (Killybegs)

Report Filed: 5 June 2007