Monday, August 23, 2010

Sat August 21 - Junior Football semi-final: Shannon Blues v Donegal

Shannon Blues 0-8 Donegal 1-10

Donegal overcame the challenge of Shannon Blues in the first of the Junior A football semi-finals on Saturday. The northerners got some great performances from Paddy McLoughlin at wing back, Christy McLoughlin at center forward, and Eamonn McCarney at corner forward to keep an edge on their opponents through the second half. The Blues gave it a go and could have leveled affairs late in the game, having won a penalty, but the shot went wide and Donegal went on to march into next Sunday’s final.

Paddy McLoughlin bursting forward for Donegal.
The opening stages of the first half were dominated by the Blues. With the defence on top of Donegal, the Blues enjoyed most of the possession. Brendan Driscoll at center back directed play out of defence, and with Pat Murray motoring in midfield, Ulick Leonard, Nick Murray, and wing back Conor Fitzgerald pointed. Eamonn McCarney had opened the scoring with a point for Donegal, and trailing by three points to one, the Donegal men found their stride mid-way into the second period. Paddy McLaughlin, and his namesake Christy, each pointed to level matters, and Christy then almost goaled. Having made his own opening, McLaughlin tried to place the shot to the far post and the ball came back off the foot of the post. Soon afterwards, Donegal had their goal. Jonathan Byrne was found with a ball over the top and the Malin man beautifully placed his shot into the far corner. The sides traded points to bring us to half time with the Blues leading by a goal, 1-4 to 0-4.

The Blues tried everything to swing affairs to their advantage in a scrappy second half that had several stoppages. Wing back, Conor Fitzgerald, put in a fine performance in the second period, while Nick Murray and Mark Green made every effort to claw back the deficit. With Paddy McLaughlin making darting forward runs, Donegal stretched their lead to five points after the restart. Donegal had an early goal chance, but Kieran McGee’s close range shot was saved by Gary Henry. Paddy McLaughlin pointed and was followed by Christy with another. With 20 minutes to go the Blues launched a comeback effort. Nick Murray pointed, and Mark Green added another. Christy McLaughlin and Green then traded points and the difference between the sides stood at a goal. The Blues had a chance to level the game after Alan Garry, who had come on as a substitute was dragged down in the square. Mark Green faced the imposing figure of Colin Murphy in goal for Donegal, and Green tried to place the shot high to Murphy’s left, but missed the mark. Following the let off, Donegal pressed home the advantage. Emmet Doonan extended the lead to four, and Christy McLaughlin made it six with a points from frees, one followed the sending off of Brendan Driscoll for Shannon Blues. A good win for the Donegal, and the northerners await the winners of Sunday’s semi-final between New England Celtics and Aiden McAnespies in the final.

Blues: G. Henry, P. Moriarty, G. Jones, C. Fitzgerald (0-1), B. Driscoll, M. Keegan, P. Murray, N. Murray (0-3), D. Simms, M. Green (0-2), S. Griffin, U. Leonard (0-2), B. Dowdell. Donegal: C. Murphy, H. Devine, K. Coyle, P. McNulty, R. Porter, P. McLaughlin (0-2), E. Doonan (0-1), P. O’Connor, K. McGee, C. McLaughlin (0-5), B. Friel, J. Byrne (1-0), E. McCarney (0-2).

By Rory O'Donnell

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