Alan Foley reports from Ballybofey
DONEGAL TURNED THINGS on their head to take the points against Meath with a bulldozing last 11 minutes at MacCumhaill Park in tonight’s Division 2 league tie.
The side managed by Declan Bonner might still be missing a host of more experienced players and the Gaoth Dobhair contingent ahead of their All-Ireland Club SFC against Corofin, but those on show tonight were far from their best for the first hour.
Meath were a point in front, 0-8 to 0-7, at half-time and from there seemed to be going from strength to strength. Daire Campion scored on 54 minutes to put the visitors within touching distance of the win at 0-14 to 0-10 up.
But then they stopped.
Donegal managed to muscle out a 0-16 to 0-13 win in Ennis last weekend and although still a little wet behind the ears as a panel, had enough wherewithal about them to come through.
Caolan McGonagle’s goal wasn’t a thing of beauty, with the ball trickling past Andrew Colgan in the Meath goal on 59 minutes following a diagonal ball from Eoghan ‘Ban’Gallagher. It did, though, get Donegal on the road and on a freezing night in the north-west it brought some life to the crowd.
From then on, it was almost all one-way traffic. Ciaran Thompson, with his fifth point levelled it at 1-11 to 0-14, before Donegal kicked three decent chances wide. On the timer, it slipped from black to red.
Donegal were not going to be undone. Eoin McHugh, a second half substitute, kicked them ahead in the second of what evolved into eight minutes of injury time and to finish it off, Jamie Brennan gave the scoreboard a look of much more comfort that had in fact been the case.
With Meath just one down, before Brennan’s clincher, Thomas O’Reilly missed a simple effort to tie it up. Andy McEntee must’ve been wondering whether the gods contriving against his troops.
Meath looked good for the most part. Ethan Devine’s score to put them one up at half-time was the least they deserved. Wing-backs Niall Kane and James McEntee were impressing in their forages up the field and Campion, O’Reilly and Michael Newman were strong inside.
As the second half took shape, it seemed as though the result was taking shape too. The lead of one became two, became three, became four. Bryan Menton and Shane McEntee, the centre-field partnership, both scored.
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Sixteen minutes remained. That passed, as did eight minutes injury time and Meath didn’t add to their total and Donegal took full advantage.
Scorers for Donegal: Ciaran Thompson 0-5 (0-2f), Niall O’Donnell 0-3 (0-2f), Caolan McGonagle 1-0, Jamie Brennan 0-2, Michael Langan, Martin O’Reilly (1m), Eoin McHugh 0-1 each.
Scorers for Meath: Daire Campion, Michael Newman (2f) 0-3 each, James McEntee, Shane McEntee, Niall Kane 0-2 each, Ethan Devine, Brian Menton 0-1 each.
Mark Anthony McGinley; Conor Morrison, Brendan McCole, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Caolan Ward, Eamonn Doherty, Ryan McHugh; Hugh McFadden, Michael Langan; Niall O’Donnell, Ciaran Thompson, Caolan McGonagle; Martin O’Reilly, Martin McElhinney, Jamie Brennan.
Subs: Leo McLoone for Langan (half-time), Jason McGee for McElhinney (45), Stephen McMenamin for O’Reilly (45), Eoin McHugh for Doherty (67), Paul Brennan for O’Donnell (75).
Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Ronan Ryan; James McEntee, Donal Keogan, Niall Kane; Bryan Menton, Shane McEntee; Ethan Devine, Ben Brennan, Bryan McMahon; Darragh Campion, Mickey Newman, Thomas O’Reilly.
Subs: Cillian O’Sullivan for Brennan (half-time), Graham Reilly for Devine (47), James Conlon for Bryan McMahon (55), Jason Scully for Campion (67), Michael Burke for Newman (72)
Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo)
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Carlow 2-7 Westmeath 1-10
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