Donegal 0-14 Shannon Blues 3-10
There was plenty of talking points to keep the punters going for the week following this highly anticipated game. Unfortunately most of it will have little to do with the football itself. There were three sendings off, and probably should have been more following a melee just before half time. The game was testy throughout and the Blues came out on the winning end having played the last 20 minutes or so with 11 men to Donegal’s 12.
|Tony McCleneghan tries to move Donegal forward.
The Blues pulled away into a four points to one lead before the first incident. Emlyn Mulligan and Trevor Wallace had each been shown a yellow card after the two got into a tangle off the ball, and shortly afterwards both walked following an off the ball incident about which referee Mairtin Mannion consulted with the umpires at that end of the field. Barry Dwyer, who lined out at center forward for the Blues was in fine form, full of energy and running and a goal and two points to his name in the early going, the goal followed a Guthrie run through the middle. Paudi O’Shea put a lovely effort over the bar from out on the wing and the Blues were most definitely in the ascendancy. Kieran Hurley added a second goal for the Blues shortly afterwards, and the champions were firmly in control.
|Darrren Wallace recovered from this tumble to set up a point for Kieran Hurley.
Donegal managed to gain a foothold and scores came from Rory Dunleavy, Mal McDermott, and Eunan Doherty. The testy nature of the encounter continued though, and eventually the niggling between Darragh Roche and Conor Burke, who had come on as sub, flared up just before the break. While not all players were involved there was more than enough to keep the referee and linesman conferring for several minutes. Eventually, and half time was blown with no cards shown and the Blues ahead by 2-8 to 0-8.
In an effort to cool things down the teams were asked to gather their players and remind them to focus on the football before the restart. Donegal almost pulled a goal back, however, Paddy McAleer’s shot came off the crossbar and Gavin Gallagher tidied up with a point. A McDermott free reduced the deficit to 4 points, and then the Blues Kieran Hurley was shown a second yellow for his challenge on the Donegal keeper who had just gathered a high ball. Rory Kavanagh added another Donegal point and things were set up for a grand finale with a goal in it and Donegal with a one man advantage.
The Blues had other ideas. Greg Horan scored a cracking goal reminiscent of Eoin Mulligans for Tyrone against Dublin 10 years ago. Horan sold two dummies before firing the ball into the roof of the net from outside the 14. The Blues had the adrenalin coursing through the veins now, Conor Mullen casually slotted over from distance and Conor Jordan made it an eight point difference with the game entering the end stages. Donegal heads were down and some late points improved the scoreline but made no change to the outcome. A great win for the Blues coming into the second half of the championship, and for Donegal a time to regroup.
Donegal: J. Nockor, S. Doherty, M. Canny, T. McCleneghan, D. Green, G. Gallagher, M. Smyth, R. Kavanagh, R. Dunleavey, M. McDermott, E. Doherty, P. McBride, E. Mulligan. Blues: D. O’Brien, T. Wallace, C. Jordan, P. O’Shea, T. Grey, L. O’Connell, W. Guthrie, G. Horan, D. Wallace, B. Dwyer, D. McElligott, D. Roche, K. Hurley.
By Rory O'Donnell