Donegal 2-14 Connemara Gaels 1-14
Donegal recaptured the Pat Callaghan Cup after a tremendously exciting game with the Connemara Gaels. The Gaels got out of the gates with a fast start but as the westerners tired, and Donegal grew into the game, the northerners restored parity by half time. Two second half goals from Christy McLaughlin opened a gap between the teams that the Gaels made a brave effort at closing with time running out, but Donegal ended with back to back points from Cian Clinton to claim the title.
|Celebrations for Donegal Junior A team and young supporters!|
The Gaels got off to a flying start and after 10 minutes were ahead by five points. Damien Doolan at wing back put back to back efforts over from out on the wing, Phil O’Sullivan put two frees over, and the balance of scoring came from Kenny Gavigan and Tommy McDonagh. The Gaels began to tire eventually, and Donegal came into the game with some well worked points, Christy McLaughlin and Cian Clinton put back to back efforts over, Karl Archbald another, and with Half time approaching Donegal had turned the tables and held a one point lead. O’Sullivan leveled matters just before the break, but Donegal held the momentum going into the second half.
|Ann Callaghan and family present the cup named after her late husband |
and Donegal man, Pat Callaghan, to Donegal Captain, Declan McBride.
The second half saw the Gaels come out strong again, pointing three times on the trot. Gavigan and O’Sullivan found the mark early. It was then that Donegal hit back with force, following two points to reduce the gap to a single score, the Tir Chonaill men rocked the Gaels with two goals. Twice Christy McLaughlin saw the opening and on both occasions his shot was partially blocked, but each time had enough behind it to make it over the line and into the net. Donegal with a decided edge now.
The Gaels could not get anything going and could not mount an attack of consequence. The Donegal backs were on top and the Donegal’s speedy forwards had the Gaels on the back foot. The lead grew to seven after Clinton and McLaughlin pointed, but the Gaels had life left in them, even as both teams started to tire noticeably.
PJ Kelly, who entered as a sub, started the rally with a hard earned point, and after Mulgrew found Tom Sally McDonagh there was just a goal in it with the ball nestling in the corner of the net from the boot of the Leitir Mor man. Donegal had lost Brian Kelly to knee injury and Tom Caldwell to a black card, and Gaels still had a chance. Gavigan and O’Sullivan reduced the gap to a solitary point in injury time. Each possession was crucial now, and it was Donegal who won the critical possessions. Clinton pointed twice to leave the Gaels needing a goal to force extra time, but with the kickout the final whistle ended a very exciting final.
Gaels: P. Sweeney, D. Black, F. Cassidy, D. Doolan, P. McNicholas, S. O’Reilly, J. Farragher, K. Gavigan, S. Murray, C. Mulkerrins, T. McDonagh, P. O’Sullivan, D. Mulgrew.
Donegal: J. Byrne, P. McNulty, D. McBride, A. Camon, M. Canney, D. Doherty, D. Kelly, B. Kelly, T. Caldwell, R. Diver, K. Archibald, C. Clinton, C. McLaughlin.
By Rory O'Donnell