Aidan McAnespies 0-12 Donegal 0-9
Aidan McAnespies captured the first piece of silverware of the season with a 3 point win over Donegal. Having outplayed their opponents for almost all of the 60 minutes, it was still a nervy ending for McAnespies. A late diving save in injury time from Paddy Coakley denied Darren Doherty a goal that would have sent the game into extra time. The McAnespies defence was outstanding throughout, closing the spaces and forcing Donegal into giving up the ball on almost every attack in the first half. Marty Mongan, Jimmy Rigney and Robbie Croft we also all on form as McAnespies scored a sweet victory to claim the first trophy of the season.
Gerry Prior presents McAnespies captain, Paddy Coakley,
with the Pat O'Brien Cup.
McAnespies streaked into a 5 points to one lead over the first quarter. Each time Donegal were in possession the McAnespies back line swarmed and denied easy options to their opponents. At the other end Macs capitalized on their chances. Brian Breslin scored twice, attacking from wing back, while Croft, Che O’Donnell, and Mongan tallied one each. Donegal were short on ideas, Derek Maguire carrying forward and not much happening afterwards. Points did come from Sean Hume and Maguire for the Tir Chonaill men. Donegal were short on a reliable free taker as different players tried their hand from within range, but with no success. Before the break a point from Jimmy Rigney and two from Croft, one a lovely swinger from a tight angle, to a Lee Carr point for Donegal made it a 0-8 to 0-3 advantage for McAnespies at the break.
|Aidan McAnespies, 2017 Pat O'Brien Cup Champions|
The second half saw McAnespies up against it after Eoin Delmer was sent off following a second yellow card. Donegal started to make noise, but still, could not capitalize on the chances that came their way. Ironically, the most difficult dead ball effort of the day was sent over the bar by Brian Donnelly, and was answered by a great Croft effort from range. The gap closed to within a score after Carr and Donnelly pointed and at that stage Donegal were laying siege to the McAnespies goal. With the pressure building, it looked like the tide may be turning. The teams were leveled up in personnel, however, after Brian Donnelly was yellow carded a second time and the pressure eased somewhat on the McAnespies defence. Not entirely though, as after the sides traded two points each, nerves set in on the McAnespies sideline as a goal would level affairs. Donegal got inside and captain, Paddy Coakley, dived to his left to keep out Doherty’s low drive. Carr and Rigney each pointed as McAnespies played possession with the line begging referee Jason Long to blow the whistle which eventually came.
A sweet win for McAnespies, and a bright start to 2017. Picking one player as man of the match is difficult as it was a team performance that carried the day for the Macs. However, Brian Breslin’s attacking runs relieved pressure when needed, Jimmy Rigney put in a tremendously gutsy performance, and Croft popped up the scores from the chances that came his way.
Donegal: Pauric Miskell, Declan Scott, Jack O’Brien, Mark Canny, Darren Doherty, Neal McAneny, Brian Donnelly, Kevin Toner, Lee Carr, Derek Maguire, Conor Brennan, Sean Hume, Sean Donnelly.
Macs: Paddy Coakley, Eoin Delmer, Seamus Breslin, Paul Clifford, Tommy Brerton, Brian Breslin, Marty Mongan, Niall Donaghy, Jimmy Rigney, Che O’Donnell, Eamon Joyce, Robbie Croft, Ciaran Wallace.
By Rory O'Donnell