Donegal 3-10 Connemara Gaels 2-12
The last few years Donegal have been
the team to beat in Boston, and this year it’s no different. There was a lot to talk about before and
after this titanic semi-final, where the Gaels stood between Donegal and a
fourth final appearance on the trot. The
Gaels looked like they had found a winning formula last week with their win
over Aidan McAnespies, and stuck with much the same side. The only difference being defender Callum
Holland having to return to Ireland due to a bereavement. There was plenty of anticipation as to who
might be in Donegal’s starting side given recent events in the news, but it
would be a strong side whether or not they availed of the services of Ciaran
McFaul, who though togged out, was not in the starting lineup. As it played out, the game was in the hands
of the Gaels heading into the final quarter, but after the water break some
changes from Donegal turned the tables and sent them into next Sunday’s final and
a chance at 4 in a row against Aidan McAnespies.
|Cory Gallagher with Matt Sullivan in attendance.|
(Photo by Jack Collins)
It was a sluggish enough opening 30
minutes, with the heat clearly doing a number on both teams and the anticipated
fireworks did materialize – they would be saved for the second half. For the first 10 minutes it was a point
each. Justin Kieran opened the scoring
for the Gaels with a nicely taken point from play and a few minutes later a
Paul Mannion free had the teams on level terms.
The game went into a lull for most of the opening quarter, with the dead
heat draining energy levels, only broken by a Donegal goal. It was Keelan Sexton who applied the finish
to a move that almost broke down. Shane Carthy found himself in possession with
the keeper to beat, but held his fire to pass to Sexton who had the net yawning
in front of him. Shane Killoran extended
the Donegal lead following a turnover of possession in the Donegal back line,
with Donegal keeper Hugh Boyle starting the move.
Each time the Gaels won possession
Donegal retreated and had all players behind the ball, and the Gaels threat of
the quickness of Kieran at wing forward and James Garrity at corner forward was
largely neutralized. As the Gaels
searched for the gaps Donegal patiently waited for the turnovers. Kieran McDevitt pointed and Mannion and
Carthy followed with scores. Kieran
occasionally found openings if the ball was played in quickly, and capitalized
with points on two occasions. The half
ended with Garrity and Kieran combining for a score, and Kieran with a pass
from Matt Sullivan pointed to make it a one goal Donegal lead at the break, 1-5
The Gaels turned the tables in the
15 minutes following the restart as the game opened up and maybe a second wind
took hold. Kieran Turbitt was introduced
early, and in the middle of the field a ding dong battle between Jack Lynch and
Shane Killoran broke mostly in favor of the Gaels home grown player. The Gaels gained a foothold in the game. A couple of early Gaels wides signaled what
was to come as the next five points broke 4 to one for the Gaels. A string of scores from Turbitt, Garrity,
Turbitt again, and then Kieran, was broken up by an excellent Keelan Sexton
point for Donegal – and the teams were level.
The Gaels were on top of the Donegal kickouts and enjoyed plenty of
possession. A Caolan McColgan foray into
Gaels territory lifted the pressure off Donegal and ended with Mannion pointing
a free. Then the Gaels edged into a lead
for the first time since the opening score. Kieran produced the leveler, and the go ahead
came from a turnover forced by Michael Coyne deep inside the Gaels own
half. The ball made its way to Garrity
who put the ball between the posts.
The answer from Donegal came from
none other than Mannion. Donegal had
brought on their own fresh legs, and Derryman, Jack Doherty who came on in the
middle of the field was having a strong influence on the game, winning plenty
of possession and starting Donegal attacks.
With the game in the balance Gaels veteran, Sean Conneely won the ball
on the Donegal end line. Conneely turned
his man and from an angle that seemed impossible to score from, put the ball
inside the far post with a left footed shot.
The Gaels saw that this might be their day after all, then came the
second half water break.
With the game in the balance and the
Gaels looking like they might be the ones to proceed to the final, a couple of
additional changes from Donegal for the final 10 minutes swung the game
decisively. On came Sean Lowery, and the
St. Vincents man played like he had a point to prove with relentless and single
minded running. To the surprise of many
in attendance, McFaul was also added to the fray, and when the game restarted
the change in fortunes was instantaneous.
McFaul won a couple of early balls and the result was 2 Donegal points,
one from Lowery. Then came a goal from
Shane Carthy. Lowery was involved after
he was found in space running at the goal.
The shot went across the face and Carthy was on hand to side foot into
the empty net.
Donegal up by two, and the Gaels
were in danger of caving in in the run in to the final whistle. A Turbitt free brought the lead back to
point, and Donegal struck again. This
time Lowery, with a similar run, buried the ball himself on this occasion to
the jubilation of the Donegal supporters.
With the clock hitting the 30 minutes the Gaels pulled the goal back. Once again, Justin Kieran dug deep to win the
ball and hit a hopeful one across the Donegal goal into a crowd and Dylan
Murtagh got his foot to it to make it a one point game again. Would there be time for another chance for
the Gaels? Not so as once Donegal broke
upfield from the breaking ball off the kickout, the final whistle sounded. Disappointment for the Gaels, and for Donegal
going for 4 in a row with another date with last year’s final opponents, Aidan
McAnespies, next Sunday at 5:00.
Gaels: Sean Fox, Jack Coyne, Ciaran Killeen, Michael
Coyne, Barry McCambridge, Colman Mulkerrin, Ryan Caffrey, Jack Lynch, Justin
Kieran, Matt Sullivan, Sean Conneely, Mikey Kerr, James Garrity.
Donegal: Hugh Boyle, Jason Noctor, Ciaran Tobin, Sean
Doherty, Jack O’Brien, Caolan McColgan, Shane Carthy, Shane Killoran, Cory
Gallagher, Ciaran McDevitt, Keelan Sexton, Paul Mannion, Chris O’Neill.
By Rory O'Donnell