Monday, July 11, 2022

Senior Football - Aidan McAnespies v Donegal

Donegal 1-8 Aidan McAnespies 4-11

Donegal's Paul Mannion Lines up a Shot
Aidan McAnespies took the points in a surprisingly lopsided victory over Donegal on the final game of the day.  There was a large crowd in attendance to see the clash of the championship favourites, and if it was a close run affair they were expecting, most will have gone home disappointed, McAnespies supporters excepted.  McAnespies played some free flowing football and came up with big goals from Eoin Gormley, Robbie Croft and second half substitutes, Ruairi Scott and Tiernan Saul to put the icing on the cake.  Donegal never really got going and will be back to figuring out the pieces after their second loss on the trot.

It was double scores by the time the first half had played out.  McAnespies netted twice, the first through Eoin Gormley who showed no hesitation in burying his shot following an intricate handpassing move that involved several players inside the Donegal 21.  The second, just before the break also involved Gormley who had the assist for Robbie Croft who took his time before firing the shot into the far corner.  Donegal might have considered themselves unfortunate to have had a goal scratched as Keelan Sexton was adjudged to have been in the square before the ball. 

In the early going Donegal looked like they could prove a handful for McAnespies as a couple of beautiful Paul Mannion curlers split the posts.   With Derry’s Ciaran McFaul and Clare’s Keelan Sexton also in the forward line there was an anticipation of a Donegal onslaught at some point, which never really materialized.   Even after Gormley’s goal it was 1-3 to 0-4 as Sean Lowry and Mannion responded, and the game was still well up for grabs, but the Croft goal really proved to be a body blow for Donegal.  Overall McAnespies enjoyed the better of the play and worked the ball well through the lines, and truth be told, there could have been more on the board for the Macs but for a handful of missed chances. 

Plenty of Room for Cian Sharkey to run

Heading into the second half with McAnespies ahead by double scores, 2-4 to 0-5, there was an expectation that Donegal would mount a comeback attempt.  But it was McAnespies who dominated the all-important third quarter of the game.  Four points to no reply almost doubled the lead as Jamie Brennan at corner forward came into his own with 3 points, and Croft was on the money with the dead balls, putting a free over.   McAnespies had the back line buttoned down well, and although Donegal got some relief with a pointed Mannion free before Cory Gallagher struck with a goal following an uncharacteristic turnover in the middle of the field, the tide of the game did not change.

The score did not signal a chance in fortunes for the Donegal men, and even with several changes made from the line the pattern remained the same.  Croft and Brolly responded with points, a sign of which team was in control, and to the cheers of the McAnespies faithful in the stands, a Ruairi Scott goal with the assist from corner back, Rob Piggott, put a cap on it.  A late Tiernan Saul goal rubbed the “Sault” into the Donegal wound, and the rout was complete.  Plenty of football left to play to decide the 2022 winners, and each team has Galway and the Connemara Gaels left to play before top spot and the automatic berth in the final is decided.

Donegal:  Hugh Boyle, Aidan Sullivan, Jason Noctor, Sean Lambe, Jack O’Brien, Sean Donnelly, Ciaran McFaul, Cory Gallagher, Sean Winston, Paul Mannion, Sean Lowry, Ciaran McDevitt, Keelan Sexton.  Macs:  Rory McElroy, Rob Piggott, Gavin Nangle, Owen Ward, Colm Lennon, Cian Sharkey, Daragh Lyne, Steve Ward, Jim McMahon, Rory Brolly, Robbie Croft, Eoin Gormley, Jamie Brennan.

By Rory O’Donnell

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