Donegal 1-9 Aidan McAnespies 2-7
Aidan McAnespies pulled off the most unlikely comeback with an injury time goal from Michael Day, though such were the number of bodies in the box the final touch could have gone to any one of four or five players. McAnespies had lost Callum Comiskey to a sending off early in the first half and it looked as though Donegal had the points in the bag as the northerners led by seven points mid-way through the second half and were cruising. McAnespies pushed hard in the second half as Donegal tried to play out time, and the lead was pulled back to within 2 points late on. In injury time Michael Day was the man on the spot to poke the ball home from close range in a goalmouth scramble, much to the joy the McAnespies players and supporters alike.
|McAnespies David Fitzpatrick breaks away from the attention of Rory Kavanagh.|
The first half was full of incident as tempers flared on a couple of occasions and Pat Casey had to pull out the cards. With the teams tied at three points each a schmozzle broke out with McAnespies on the attack and the end result was that corner forward Callum Comiskey, was shown the red card. There was about 15 minutes gone at that point and Donegal would have the extra man for 45 minutes.
|Donegal's Jason Whelan on the attack.|
Donegal used the extra man to their advantage and went into a four point lead before the break. Lorcan Connor pointed twice, Emlyn Mulligan once, and Jason Whelan the other. For McAnespies it was Tony Donnelly and Chris Healy with the early scores, but things dried up following the sending off and Chris Healy was the lone man up front, and hardly even had the scraps to feed off. At the break Donegal led 0-7 to 0-3.
McAnespies had a goal chance early in the second half, however Mickey Boyle stood up well and saved David Fitzpatrick’s shot. Connor had pointed to add to Donegal’s lead. After Chris Healy had put McAnespies first score of the half over the bar Donegal struck with a goal. The ball was worked in to Connor whose shot cannoned off the post and into the back of the net. That was the point that the game seemed like it was over as a contest. Donegal with a seven point lead, and they tried to play out time.
There was plenty to talk about in the final 15 minutes as McAnespies made a big push to try and turn the tables. Donegal lost Gavin Gallagher to a black card, but still had 13 on the field. Points from Healy, Collie Donnelly, and Fergal McGeough brought McAnespies within four points. Gareth O’Neill, who entered the action in the second half buried a shot into the corner of the net and there was just a point in it.
McAnespies continued to put the pressure on as Donegal tried to hang on to possession, and there was controversy as cries for a penalty were waved off when Healy appeared to be pulled down in the box. After Connor had put Donegal two points to the good, McAnespies had one final attempt to pull off a result. A free was taken short and worked close to goal, the ball came loose was pinged around the box before Day got the touch to turn the ball into the net amid a scramble of bodies. The goal and the win mean that McAnespies finish top of the table and get two weeks to rest and prepare for the semi-finals.
Donegal: M. Boyle, J. Noctor, C. Burke, T. McCleneghan, M. Smyth, D. Green, B. Donnelly, R. Kavanagh, G. Gallagher, E. Mulligan, E. Doherty, J. Whelan, L. Connor. Macs: P.Coakley, E. Kerins, M. Boyle, F. McGeough, R. Kennedy, B. Greenan, J. Brickland, M. Day, T. Donnelly, D. Fitzpatrick, C. Healy, J. Hall, C. Comiskey.
By Rory O'Donnell