Sunday, August 17, 2014

Senior Football Semi-Final: Shannon Blues v Donegal

Shannon Blues 1-13 Donegal 1-12

Shannon Blues squeaked past Donegal in the first of two wonderfully exciting senior football semi finals.  The Blues opened a six point lead early in the second half only to see it disappear with less than five minutes to go, and Donegal lead by two.  The Blues dragged themselves back to level the scores, and Darren Wallace put the winner over the bar after coming on as a second half substitute.

Sean O'Connor on the attack.
The initiative changed hands twice during the opening period.  The Blues came out of the blocks fast and held a four points to one lead.  Donegal eventually signaled that they were coming to grips with the Blues pace, and made several chances that ended up wide.  Eventually the ball began to go between the posts for the Donegal men.  Griffin, Boyle, McLaughlin, and Murray all tallied points.  Donegal were in front this period, beating their opponents to what seemed like every ball, and looked like they were taking over.  The Blues rallied towards the end of the half and pulled ahead before the break as the game ebbed and flowed.  Sean O’Connor, Darragh Treacy and Niall Murphy opened up gaps in the Donegal defence,  and points came from each of the three.  At the break it was a one point Blues lead, 0-8 to 0-7.

Mark Canney tries to stop Niall Murphy.
The Blues got the second half off to a great start with three unanswered points, a great restart.  Denis McElligott made the gap six points with a great individual goal to slide the ball into the corner of the net under the challenge of two Donegal defenders.  Donegal introduced Simon McDonagh to the fray and the big midfielder made a huge difference after coming on.  The Blues attacks were limited as the big Donegalman won 5 kickouts in a row.  A penalty was awarded after a Donegal move cut open the Blues defence and McLaughlin was pulled down in the box.  Griffin put it away expertly and there was just two points in it coming into the final sequence of the game. 

Donegal continued to control the direction of traffic.  Both scores that leveled the game came from McLaughlin; five minutes to go it was anybody’s game.  The Blues shortened up the kickouts to hit the wing backs.  Donegal took a one point lead, but in a rare Blues attack, Sean O’Connor, whose effort when the chips were down was tremendous for the Blues, was pulled down by Matt Smyth while bearing down on goal.  Smyth was shown the black card, a loss to the Donegal’s midfield effort, and O’Connor leveled from the free.  As the possibility of extra time approached the Blues had a last chance and Darren Wallace put the ball over the bar from 30 yards.  Donegal had one last chance of their ownto draw level, but in a turn of events from last week’s quarter final game, Steven Griffin put the high pressure kick wide from a difficult angle.  Blues delight as they advance to their second final in three years.

Blues:  C. Wallace, T. Wallace, G. Ryan, D. Clifford, J. Walsh, D. McElligott, A. O’Donovan, K. Byrnes, S. Moriarty, S. O’Connor, D. Treacy, P. O’Connor, N. Murphy.  Donegal:  E. McCarney, M. Canney, J. O’Connor, S. Doherty, G. Gallagher, C. Healy, M. Smyth, C. Thompson, G. Clancy, S. Griffin, D. McLaughlin, S. Boyle, R. Murray.

By Rory O'Donnell

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