Monday, June 18, 2012

Donegal Hang on as Gaels Make Late Rally

Connemara Gaels 2-12 Donegal 2-15

The Gaels were up against it on Sunday,facing the table topping Donegal. The westerners almost pulled off an unlikely comeback.  Donegal opened up an eight point lead that they held for most of the game and a late Gaels comeback saw it reduced to two points, but it proved to be a bridge too far for the Gaels and the northerners held on to retain their hundred percent record.

Eric Monahan takes on Mark Canning.
There was plenty of desperate defending from the Gaels in the opening period as Donegal opened up the defence on several occasions.  At least twice the Gaels prevented sure goals by making desperate blocks to keep the ball from crossing the goal line.  The best goal chance that fell for the Connemara men was in the opening minute when Eric Monahan was through, but his shot from 14 yards went wide of the post.  Ironically, Donegal then netted their first chance at goal a minute later, and the goal had an air of fortune, good if you are a Donegal man and bad if a Gaels one.  James O’Donnell got down well to save from Derek Maguire, but the rebound hit defender Ciaran O’Donnell and into the net.  Donegal proceeded to take over the game, and in spite of some hard effort on behalf of the Gaels they could not turn the tide of the game.  Garbhan Friel was on fire in the corner for Donegal, while the midfield of Brian White and Brian Donnelly had the edge over their opposite numbers.  Points flowed form Friel, White, Maguire, and Donnelly.  The Gaels kept in touch and made the most of the chances that came their way.  Accurate free taking from Noel Graham, and points from Sean Conneely and Eric Monahan left the Gaels eight points adrift at the break, 2-8 to 0-6.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first with Donegal too full of running for the Gaels.  The northerners tallied four points to one for the Gaels in the 10 minutes following the restart.  White and Maguire were the proponents.  Eric Monahan accounted for the solitary Gaels point, but a goal from center forward Sean Moran heralded a Gaels comeback.  The Gaels broke downfield and Moran blasted the ball goalwards and it found the back of the net.  Dara McCormack, Daryl Hayden, and Sean Curran were brought into the fray as the Gaels brought in some fresh legs.  Hayden pointed, and shortly afterwards almost netted but Peter Boyle saved well.  The Gaels then enjoyed a spell on top and pointed four times without reply to reduce the gap to five points.  McCormack played a big part in the revival, the big man proved to be an effective target and played the ball well into the forward line.  A penalty then came, and Monahan delivered with a low shot and now the Donegal lead was a mere two points with plenty of left to play.  The Gaels did themselves no favours in the final minutes and Donegal took full advantage of some sloppy passing to restore the lead to four before the final whistle.  A gallant display from the Gaels and for Donegal another win in the bag.

Gaels:  J. O’Donnell, D. Doolan, C. O’Donnell, S. Conneely, J. Vaughn, F. O’Beara, G. Delaney, B. Joyce, N. Graham, S. Moran, P. Cunningham, E.Monahan, C. Mulkerrins.  Donegal:  P. Boyle, M. Canning, J. Gallagher, K. Mulhern, K. McColgan, R. Crawford, B. White, B. Donnelly, D. Maguire, S. O’Hanlon, F. Clancy, K. Williams, G. Friel.

By Rory O'Donnell

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