Donegal 0-13 Aidan McAnespies 0-9
Donegal and McAnespies played out a tense and testy affair. It was an exciting game in that there was never too much between the teams, and although they spent the hour chasing the game, one felt that there was always a chance for McAnespies to catch their opponents. Donegal had most of the possession, but had to earn this one, and also had Hugh Boyle to thank for some very good saves after McAnespies had got behind the Donegal defence. Two sendings off for McAnespies will have them wondering what could have been, but in the end it was Donegal who deserved to advance to the final.
|Michael Carroll lines up a shot for Donegal.|
Donegal went into the break holding a lead that had it not been for Hugh Boyle it would have been McAnespies with the advantage. After Donegal popped over 2 quick points from Dermot Connolly and Michael Carroll, McAnespies were in on top of Boyle twice, and twice Boyle denied a goal from point blank range. Warner Mullen, who entered play following a black card to Eric Finn, opened the account for McAnespies with a point following one of the rebounds off a Boyle save.
The game settled down with Donegal pointing the next 4 scores. Lee Carr was busy in the corner and fisted over nicely from an angle, with Connolly, Shane Carthy and Murphy following suit clipping over some well taken scores as Donegal edged away. McAnespies hung in and Mullen floated over 3 nice points , but not before Boyle again saved Donegal, this time from Danny McBride who was clean through following a nicely worked move. The game started to get testy, and Paul Clifford, who had entered as a sub was sent to the line following an off the ball incident and McAnespies job got that bit harder. Mullen pointed once more as McAnespies defenders worked very hard to contain the Donegal attack. It was a slender one point Donegal lead at the break, 0-6 to 0-5.
|Warner Mullen shakes off the challenge of Jason Noctor.|
The second half was tight. McAnespies continued to work extremely hard at the back and goalkeeper Robbie Croft was called upon on several occasions to come off his line to intercept as Donegal runners were bearing down on goal. When in possession McAnespies did well to retain it with patient build ups, however, with the man down there were few options up front and eventually turned it back over more. Donegal had most of the ball and worked it well. Carthy was the link man helping out in defence and going forward, but the Tir Chonaill men could not shake off their opponents. Carr, Connolly and Sean Donnelly pointed for Donegal when the chances presented themselves, and it was Mullen and Johnny Lafferty for McAnespies.
There was just a goal in it with 10 minutes to go in spite of the Donegal dominance, and for a fourth time Boyle earned his keep after getting down well to save from Danny McBride who broke in behind the Donegal defence. Each team brought in players to keep it fresh on the field, but McAnespies shot themselves in the foot a second time as Rob Piggott, who had been marking Connolly, and played “on the edge” saw a second yellow. It was now a 2 man advantage for Donegal as the clock ran down. Lee Carr put 4 in it with 2 minutes left and Mullen answered to keep it to one score between the sides. The insurance came from a Connolly free in injury time and with 2 score difference the game was Donegal’s. Donegal will face the Wolfe Tones in the final, and what a game it promises to be.
Donegal: Hugh Boyle, Liam Silke, Niall Keenan, Neil McEneaney, Jason Noctor, Sean Doherty, Shane Carthy, Brendan Murphy, Ciaran McFaul, Michael Carroll, Sean Donnelly, Diarmaid Connolly, Lee Carr.
Macs: Robbie Croft, Caolan Harvey, Eoin Delmer, Seamie Breslin, Rob Piggott, Danny O’Neill, Declan Hughes, Phil McCusker, Eric Finn, Albert Martin, Danny McBride, Eamon Fyfe, Che O’Donnell.By Rory O'Donnell