Donegal 3-11 Wolfe Tones 2-11
The Tones and Donegal kept the powder dry for this encounter, leaving some of their big guns on the bench. Dermot Connolly and Brendan Murphy did not see any action for Donegal, and likewise for James Dolan and James McEntee for the Tones. It was a game that the Tones were always chasing, but it was a man of the match performance in goal by Hugh Yank Boyle that delivered the goods for Donegal in the end.
|Mike O'Brien makes a burst forward.|
Donegal got off to the better start, picking off 5 points before the Tones got on the board. Conor Small, Oisin O’Neill, Shane Carthy and Michael Carroll were on the mark as Donegal had control of affairs early on. The Tones eventually got into the game, Ronan Jones and Dean Curran pointed, however, Donegal hit with a well worked goal from Neil McEnaeney. The Tones got the goal back through Chris Sallier after he was played in with a nice ball from Aaron Elliott.
With Donegal still ahead on the scoreboard the Tones enjoyed the better of things for the last 15 minutes of the half and could have had a couple more goals. Donegal had Hugh Boyle to thank for getting down bravely to save from Curran and then later got a hand to a shot from Jones to put the ball out for a 45. Carroll pointed for Donegal before the break and Jones chipped over a free and at the break it was 2 point Donegal lead, 1-6 to 1-4.
|Kieran McDevitt on the ball for Donegal.|
The second half saw Donegal build a sizeable lead with 2 goals from substitute, Tiernan Flanagan, after opening the second period with 4 unanswered points. Donegal were motoring with Carthy and Carroll full of running in the middle of the field. The Tones, however, dug in their heels and some good tackling saw them win back several balls to convert into points. Sallier and Jones whet the appetite, and the introduction of Leitrim native, Robbie Cunningham, gave them some punch up front.
Cunningham netted and it was the Tones turn to go on a mini run, pointing 4 times to one for Donegal with the last 5 minutes approaching. There was just a goal in it after Jones pointed, but it could easily have been the Tones with the advantage in the run in; Boyle saved well on a couple of occasions from point blank range and has proven himself to be an invaluable asset to Donegal this season. Time ran out on the Tones and the win for Donegal puts them alone in pole position atop the table. Will it be these 2 teams in the final? Plenty to be decided yet.
Donegal: Hugh Boyle, Liam Silke, Niall Keenan, Sean Doherty, Jason Noctor, Neil McEnaney, Shane Carthy, Michael Carroll, Conor Small, Jason Leonard, Sean Donnelly, Ciaran McDevitt, Oisin O’Neill.
Tones: Shane Hayes, Eoin Buggie, Keith Gill, Oisin Kelly, Kevin Maguire, Jack Lynch, Aaron Elliott, Ronan Jones, Mike O’Brien, Thomas Reilly, Dean Curran, Chris Sallier, Sean Moore.By Rory O'Donnell