Donegal 1-9 Shannon Blues 1-9
Donegal and the Blues shared the points after playing what was not a classic game of football, but was a very exciting second half in which the Blues were holding on desperately to an unlikely lead until the final minute. The Blues battled tooth and nail throughout and fully deserved to be in position to win the game, but it could well have been Donegal that walked away with full points had Christy McLaughlin’s long rage free with the last kick of the game not come off the post.
|Dennis McElligott is upended as the Blues |
put it in for 60 minutes.
The first half was a close run affair with neither side managing to gain an upper hand or come to grips with the game. The Blues defended en-masse to afford little space for Donegal, and often the final ball from Donegal was disappointing. Options tended to disappear in the swarming Blues defence as, although the northerners tried to move the ball at speed, the openings did not present themselves. The Blues played on the break and the strategy worked for the opening period with the wind at their backs. Scores were at a premium; John Campbell, Alan McLaughlin, and Vinny Coyle accounted for Donegal’s first half points, while the Blues had Maurice Young and Brian Rayel to thank for theirs. At the half it was the Blues one to the good, five points to four.
The Blues continued to work very hard in the second half and fought for every ball. They were rewarded for their efforts with a goal from Conor Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald gathered well on the edge of the square and slotted the ball into the far corner. The blues had used the ball well, pointing three times up to that stage. Denis McElligott, Young, and Dara O’Connor the scorers. The score put the Blues into a five point lead and a surprise Blues victory was very much on the cards.
|Rory Dunleavy on the ball for Donegal.|
The five point lead remained intact as Young and Brian Donnelly traded points, then free taker, Maurice Young, was black carded with 15 minutes to go. After Alan McLaughlin pointed for Donegal, Vinny Coyle found himself in acres of space and the goal at his mercy, and netted into the far corner from inside the 21 to the top corner. It was now a one point game with plenty of time left. The plot thickened soon afterwards when Brian Donnelly was shown a second yellow card but the man advantage did not last long when Cormac Coffee also saw red.
It was to and fro for the last 10 minutes with the Blues holding out as Donegal tried to breach their defence one final time. Eventually John Campbell put the leveling score over after Donegal were awarded a free on the 21. There was one final chance for the Tir Chonaill men to take all of the spoils, but Christy McLaughlin’s long rage free with the last kick of the game came off the post and that was that. The Blues will have been disappointed not to have hung on, though their performance certainly is one to build on for the rest of the season.
Blues: E. Whelan, S. Kelly, P. O’Sullivan, C. Killeen, D. McElligott, C. Coffee, D. Somers, D. O’Connor, M. Young, S. Moriarty, G. Bastible, C. Fitzgerald, B. Rayel. Donegal: C. Mclaughliin, D. Monagle, C. Russell, S. Doherty, D. Green, R. SDunleavy, S. McMenamin, B. Donnelly, P. Graham, E. O’Connor, V. Coyle, J. Campbell, A. McLaughlin.
By Rory O'Donnell