Connemara 2-9 Gaels Donegal 1-16
Donegal and the Connemara Gaels played a very exciting 60 minutes that was full of incident and plenty of exciting football. There were some great scores and a sending off, that actually served to lift the Gaels efforts in the final 10 minutes to almost pull off an unlikely comeback. Donegal however were full value for their victory, with some impeccable place kicking by Laoisman, Gary Walsh, and pushing home the advantage when the momentum was with them.
|Paudge McAnenly turns Aidan Sullivan.|
It was blistering pace to open the game. Each team was keyed in on the task ahead and the challenges were uncompromising. Keelan Sexton got the Gaels off the mark with a point off the inside of the post, and Ciaran Murtagh answered for Donegal. Donegal outscored the Gaels 4 points to 2 in the following sequence, with Gary Walsh, Ray Connellan, Barry John Keane and Shane Carthy with some superb points. There were a couple of mis-hit frees from the normally reliable Sexton, and Donegal had momentum.
A penalty for Donegal with 18 minutes gone put the northerners well and truly in the driver’s seat. Sean Fox came to meet Gary Walsh for a through ball and was adjudged to have fouled the Laoisman. Walsh took the spot kick expertly and the goal put Donegal into a 4 point lead. The points began to flow as Mark Bradley (free), Walsh and Murtagh were all on the mark and Donegal pressed home their advantage. In spite of some excellent play from Adam Dallon at center back from the Gaels, the westerners struggled to find any kind of form going forward. At the break it was a 1-10 to 0-6 Donegal lead.
Two expertly taken frees from Gary Walsh from distance added to Donegal’s lead and open it to 9 just after the restart. Things turned a little chippy with a number of off the ball incidents and yellow cards issued to players from both teams. The Gaels persistence eventually paid off as they netted through Paudraig McAnenly 10 minutes into the period to reduce the difference to 6 points.
|Ray Connellan on the move for Donegal|
The teams traded points before Paul Donaghy was sent off for a second yellow card incident, and with 15 minutes left and a 6 point lead, the game was Donegal’s to lose. The Gaels lifted their efforts and after the sides swapped points before some quick thinking resulted in a goal for the Gaels. A quickly taken free from McAnenley to the open Sean Conneeley put the Rosmuc man clean through and Conneeley took his time to make sure of the goal.
One goal in it and the clock running. The Gaels tried to isolate McAnenely but a couple of over-hit passes into the full forward line came to naught. Kevin O’Halloran entered play and almost immediately pointed to make it a two point game and raise the hopes of the Gaels supporters. Donegal went for the possession game, however, the Gaels had a couple of opportunities reduce the gap further between the teams that went awry. Donegal finished the game with points from Carthy and Cian Clinton to put an end the Gaels hopes, and to make a return to the senior football final to defend the title won last season.
Gaels: Sean Fox, Niall Collins, Niall Kelly, Colm Shaughnessy, Adam Fallon, Kieran Killeen, Nathan Donnelly, Paul Donaghy, Sean Conneeley, Keelan Sexton, Nathan O’Neill, Paddy McGee, Paudraig McAnenly.
Donegal: Hugh Boyle, Aidan Sullivan, Jason Noctor, Aaron Deeney, Jack O’Brien, John Bingham, Shane Carthy, Ray Connellan, Ciaran Murtagh, Mark Bradley, Sean Donnelly, Barry John Keane, Gary Walsh.By Rory O'Donnell