Aidan McAnespies 2-10 Donegal 1-16
A good crowd was at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton to witness Donegal and McAnespies play a blistering game of championship football, one in which Donegal came through in the crucial last 10 minutes. The sides were all square coming into the final stretch, and two great scores gave Donegal an edge that they carried to the final whistle. Oisin O’Neill was key in the Donegal forward line, not only for his accuracy from frees but availability and support play when Donegal were on the attack. McAnespies had several chances to get something out of the game in the final minutes, but could not capitalize. Donegal very much back in the senior championship picture.
|Jake Foster setting up a McAnespies attack.|
The first half was played at a blistering pace with Donegal enjoying the balance of play. McAnespies created plenty of chances with their running from the back, and with the forwards all keyed in, openings were plentiful. The finished article was not always the desired outcome, however there were some lovely finishes from Jake Foster, Che O’Donnell, and Nathan O’Brien. A goal came from Phil McCusker after Eamon Fyfe made the assist. Donegal had plenty of answers themselves. The Donegal defence turned over plenty of ball, and Oisin O’Neill at corner forward was on song. The South Armagh native popped 3 over the bar, and about mid-way through the half rattled the net with a great solo effort. McAnespies answered right away with a Fyfe goal to restore their one point lead as the game flowed in both directions. Donegal kept clipping the points over, Michael Carroll, O’Neill and Ciaran McFaul all hit the target, while Anto Kidney put two long range efforts over from dead balls to make it all square at the half, 1-9 for Donegal to 2-6 for McAnespies.
|Robbie Croft and Sean Donnelly tangle.|
It was nip and tuck throughout the second half. Donegal inched into the lead with Conor Small, Sean Donnelly, and O’Neill points. The northerners looked fluid going forward and the McAnespies back line had to work hard to keep the threat at bay. With the game entering the final 10 McAnespies had leveled the scores. Fyfe pointed, and was followed by Declan Hughes as the hard work was rewarded. A lovely left footed effort from the Ballymena man made it all square and now every ball was of utmost importance. Donegal put back to back points two over the bar, a great Ciaran McFaul effort from distance followed by a well taken O’Neill free. With the clock running down McAnespies had 4 chances at points, but each time the ball drifted wide of the mark. O’Neill made it a three point gap with virtually the final kick of the game, and it is a much needed win for Donegal to settle the boat heading into the teeth of what looks like will be an exciting championship.
Macs: Declan Kidney, Caolan Harvey, Eoin Delmer, Lorcan Mallon, Robert Pigott, Jake Foster, Albert Martin, Declan Hughes, Robert Croft, Che O’Donnell, Nathan O’Brien, Eamon Fyfe, Philip McCusker.
Donegal: Hugh Boyle, Neil McEnaeney, Niall Keenan, Sean Doherty, Dylan Wall, Liam Silke, Michael Carroll, Brian Donnelly, Eoin McHugh, Ciaran McFaul, Sean Donnelly, Lee Carr, Oisin O’Neill.By Rory O'Donnell