Aidan McAnespies 2-11 Donegal 2-7
The junior football championship got underway with Aidan McAnespies and Donegal taking the field on a light breezy Sunday afternoon. It was a highly entertaining game between two strong teams that ebbed and flowed with each side enjoying spells on top. Donegal briefly looked like they might turn the tables in the second half, but McAnespies almost immediately restored their edge and pushed on to the final whistle.
|Donegal's Christy Bell is stopped by Brian O'Shaughnessy.|
It was a tightly contested first half between the Boston rivals, and once the first 30 minutes were over McAnespies held the slightest of leads. The sides traded points and it was all square at three each about 20 minutes in. Donegal veteran, Kevin Curran, and Christy McLaughlin found the mark for Donegal, while for McAnespies it was Brian Greenan, Paul Daly, and Enda Hamill with the finishing touches.
McAnespies took control of the game eventually with sweeping moves out of defence, and just before the half time break it was Greenan who provided the finish to put his side four points to the good. Donegal managed to pull the goal back through Tony McClenaghan before the break with a downfield foray and at the half it was a 1-4 to 1-3 McAnespies lead.
The second half saw Donegal take a brief lead after McLaughlin finished a move that began with a long, mazy run from the lively Rory Dunleavy. The goal provided Donegal with a burst of energy and Ryan McCrystal was forced into making a fantastic DeGea like save from a close range from a Mark Dunphy shot soon afterwards as Donegal applied the pressure. McAnespies, however, got back into pole position within minutes. Grennan’s direct run opened the space for Diarmaid Spratt to finish from close range and it stood at 2-4 to 2-6 on the scoreboard.
Play moved up and down the field at speed, with Donegal looking to pull themselves back into it and McAnespies looking for the decisive score. Points were swapped, McLaughlin and McCleneghan scoring for Donegal, while Hamill and Cox found the mark for McAnespies. McCrystal proved invaluable, pulling off another fine save down the stretch to deny what would have been an equalizing goal as McAnespies had added a point to the lead
Spratt had the final say with an insurance point in injury time to secure the two points and get McAnespies off to a great start against one of the stronger junior sides in recent years.
Macs: R. McCrystal, B. Smyth, M. McMahon, M. Bogue, D. McGarr, J. Flynn, M. Day, B. O’Shoughnessy, D. Spratt, P. Daly, E. Hamill, B. Greenan, S. O’Kane. Donegal: J. Byrne, M. Canny, D. Doherty, D. Green, E. Doonan, K. McColgan, T. McCleneghan, C. Bell, K. McDevitt, E. McCarney, K. Curran, C. McLaughlin, R. Dunleavy.
Shannon Blues 2-7 Cork 4-11
|Declan Harrington shoots for Cork.|
Following on the heels of Donegal and McAnespies were Cork and the Blues. The Blues got off to a blistering 1-3 to 0-1 start, the goal coming from James Feeney. Cork then worked themselves into the game and by the time the clock hit 30 minutes were ahead by 10 points, 3-7 to 1-6. Seventeen year old local boy, Declan Harrington, netted one of the Cork goals, and it was heartening to see both teams fielding a plethora of home grown talent.
The Blues made a brief comeback and narrowed the gap with a goal and two points to get off the mark following the restart, however, Cork regained the initiative and pulled away. Colm Caffrey netted the rebels fourth goal with about 10 minutes to go to provide reassurance to the Cork supporters in attendance. A solid first step start for Cork in their push for the Junior A title.
By Rory O'Donnell