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Glenswilly make history by surging into first Ulster final

A dank evening in Omagh couldn't darken the scale of the achievement of Glenswilly as they made it to an Ulster senior club final a mere 31 years after the formation of the club, by beating a game but disappointingly one-dimensional Roslea Shamrocks.

Tucked into an armpit of Letterkenny and nestled between St Eunan's and Naomh Conaill, Glenswilly's rise has been a staggering one.

When you see their manager Gary McDaid on the pitch after the game, clad as ever in shorts, you realise they are a hardy bunch.

The manager puts it into context when he said: "Nobody would have thought of Glenswilly in a senior final 10 years ago.

"We have 300 houses in the parish.

"We don't even have a town, we have a tiny wee crossroads and three pubs in it.

"That's it, it's a club right in the middle of the Glen, and that's it."

And that's all they need to succeed.

They could have made life easier for themselves however.

At half-time it appeared they were cruising after an early goal from Colin Kelly.

He skinned Martin Renfrew for pace after collecting a Darren McGinley pass and his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Sean Boyle, but still crossed the line after only two minutes.

Playing a massed defence around the full-back line that short-circuited the supply of ball to Roslea's marquee attacker Seamus Quigley, Glenswilly lured their opponents into committing more and more bodies forward before breaking with serious pace for scoring raids.

In one such attack Kealan McFadden made a dart upfield and his fist pass to Colin Kelly was returned across the face of the goal to Michael Murphy who almost ripped the rigging of the net as he lashed home.

That was to give them an eight-point advantage after just 20 minutes.

With James Sherry and Kevin Cosgrove imposing themselves more around the middle of the field, Roslea would go on to break even and for long periods look the better side for the rest of the match.

As Glenswilly's double-sweeper system negated Seamus Quigley, younger brother Sean was strangely out-of-sorts.

They began varying their tactics and got more joy out of carrying the ball forward before picking off points from distance.

Three consecutive wides at the beginning of the second half represented a particularly wasteful period and they were dealt another blow when a Michael Murphy free was flicked to the net by Kelly for his second goal.

Almost immediately Roslea were awarded a penalty when Niall Cosgrove was taken down by Joe Gibbons in the penalty area, the resultant penalty stroked home by Quigley.

Their resurgence gained further traction when the flight of Conor Mulligan's speculative ball into the square deceived Glenswilly goalkeeper Philip O'Donnell and dipped into the net to leave two points in it with 12 minutes remaining.

The Donegal men made another drive and strung together three points from play from Kelly, Gibbons and the impressive Gary McFadden.

Roslea continued to gain their share of possession but their lack of precision in sending ball into the inside line failed to extract the best out of their strikeforce.

It was one such ball however that Seamus Quigley got his fist to and it flew across the face of the goal.

Having set the tone early and built up a decent lead, Glenswilly were still masters of their destiny and performances from the likes of James Pat McDaid and Caolan Kelly were ample evidence of a balanced team, not as heavily reliant on Michael Murphy as has been reported.

It may only be their second foray in senior Ulster club football but they closed the game out like veterans.

Ballinderry now await them in the final, a fairytale waiting to happen.

Roslea: S Boyle; M Renfrew, C Mulligan 1-0, C Quigley; M Beagan, N Cassidy, J McMahon 0-1; K Cosgrove 0-1, J Sherry (Capt); N Cosgrove, S McMahon, P Lynch 0-1; N McMahon, Seamie Quigley 1-4, 1pen, 2f, Sean Quigley. Subs: D Reilly 0-1, for N McMahon (25m), B Sherlock for S McMahon [44m] S Lynch for J McMahon (56m)

Glenswilly: P O'Donnell; B McDaid, R Crawford, K McFadden; Caolan Kelly, JP McDaid (Capt), E Ward; N Gallagher, C Bonner 0-1; J McFadden, J Gibbons 0-1, Colin Kelly 2-1; D McGinley 0-1, G McFadden 0-3, 2f, M Murphy 1-2, 2f. Subs: B Farrelly for D McGinley (52m), C Gallagher for Colin Kelly (56m), R Diver for K McFadden (59m)

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)

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