ON A ROUGH day by the Rock Road, the remnants of Storm Jorge tore through Ballyshannon as Donegal went to weather their latest storm.
By Chris McNulty at Fr Tierney Park
The old fort town was under a constant siege from the elements as supporters huddled under an assortment of umbrellas and hoods.
The driving hail sheets lashed the Erne as Monaghan wandered across the road, sent to warm-up on Mundays Field. Donegal certainly weren’t going to roll out the red carpet for their guests.
By the time David Coldrick threw the leather into the air, the Monaghan were pelted by Donegal’s hailstones.
For the most part, Michael Murphy made the snowballs and, for a change, others took aim.
In a moment of respite from the storm, Caolan Ward thundered past Rory Beggan for the game’s opening goal.
Michael Langan, who lorded Ballyshannon’s skies with a towering performance as the air above him meandered between black, grey and blue, put Donegal six ahead at half-time and they never looked back.
“it was tough going on a heavy pitch,” reckoned the Donegal manager, Declan Bonner.
“We played well and we controlled the game. We dominated the possession so we’re quite happy with the performance and especially the win.
“It was important for us to get the two points. We spoke about it before the match. Whatever about the performance, it was all about getting the two points and getting over the line.”
Among the 4,600 in attendance was former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who flew in from London yesterday morning to join his father and Dunfanaghy native Mick in cheering on Bonner’s men.
As a man who made his name by judging the flights of balls in all sorts of weather, McGinley must surely have been impressed by Shaun Patton’s judgement and execution. A stunning 70-metre kick-out, against a stiff gale-force wind, by the Letterkenny man opened Monaghan up for the second goal, scored by Hugh McFadden.
McGinley was in Mexico last week and jets off to Florida next week.
The wintrier climbs of Ballyshannon certainly offered a different horizon, but McGinley saw enough to be hopeful for Donegal.
“It’s nice to be here,” he said. “I’m keen for Donegal to do well and they’re on the verge of doing something very good again.”
There was plenty to admire from Donegal, not least in how they closed the game and didn’t allow Monaghan a sniff. Although aided by the Farney’s own indiscipline,
Donegal impressed for long swathes of the afternoon.
Having let seven and five-point leads slip in their previous two games against Galway and Dublin, Donegal didn’t look in danger of making that an unwanted hat-trick yesterday.
“Even though we didn’t get over the line against Dublin or Galway, there has been a really good atmosphere in the squad,” Bonner said.
“They’re all pushing on. The results were disappointing, but the effort they were putting in was excellent.
“We had some big performances out there. We’re trying to build a really, really strong squad. We are getting there bit by bit. We aren’t there yet and we still have a distance to go, but we are moving in the right direction.
“I don’t think we did too much wrong in the games we lost. The goals were critical in those matches, but we defended well here. We defended well in the five games, but we had some lapses that were punished. The lads have done extremely well defensively.
“We didn’t get our rewards in a number of games, but sometimes you create your own luck.”
Donegal haven’t lost in Ballyshannon since a defeat to Dublin in 2009, the unbeaten sequence now standing at 10 games.
“Donegal are one of the best teams in the country at keeping the ball and when you give them a lead like that, it’s not a good place to be,” Seamus McEnaney, the Monaghan manager said.
“Donegal haven’t been beaten here in 10 years and there’s a reason for that. It’s very difficult to come here and play the standard of football you’d like to play.”
Donegal were able, as they weren’t against Galway and Dublin, to batten down the hatches and leave Monaghan unable to cause a stir. If anything, Monaghan came with a gentle breeze rather than their usual hurricane force.
Donegal were bothered not by a performance yesterday, but merely by the bottom line to ease their relegation fears.
Bonner said: “It was huge. We spoke about it during the week. We had been getting performances, but not the points on the board.”Tags: