ST MARY’S COLLEGE stunned Donegal with a late blitz to take a Dr McKenna Cup win in Letterkenny and leave Donegal hopes of advancing in the competition hanging in the balance.
Donegal 0-08 St Mary’s College 2-06
Substitute Ryan Johnstone scored 1-2, including a scorching goal in the 67th minute that swung the pendulum in favour of Paddy Tally’s students.
Six points from Man of the Match Odhrán Mac Niallais had Donegal leading with four minutes remaining and it looked like Donegal had got away with their glut of missed chances.
Picture caption: Odhrán Mac Niallais kicked six points for Donegal against St Mary’s College. Picture courtesy of Geraldine Diver.
The Ranch men had other ideas and they finished strongly for the win and leave 14-man Donegal cursing their wayward finishing at the start of the second half.
Donegal played for the last 18 minutes with just 14 men as Paddy McGrath was given his marching orders.
McGrath, previously booked in the 30th minute, was shown a second yellow card for his part in a 50th minute melee. McGrath and Darragh Kavanagh, the St Mary’s substitute who was only just on the field, grappled on the ground.
Neil McGee and Patrick McBride came in to join the argument and when the dust blew over Donegal were down to 14 men with McBride fortunate that he didn’t join the Ardara man in making the long walk.
The home side lined out with only one change in personnel from the team that overcame Down a week earlier as Red Hughs man Stephen McMenamin came in for his senior debut.
St Mary’s broke for their first goal in the seventh minute. Aidan Nugent’s ball inside left Jack Grogan one-on-one with Eamonn Doherty, the Donegal full-back. Grogan wrong-footed the St Eunan’s man and slammed past Danny Rodgers.
MacNiallais was the man to hit the game’s opening point and the Gaoth Dobhair man – after a score by Micheál Carroll – who levelled with a wonderful effort from the stand side.
Mac Niallais, not far in from the sideline, arched over a perfectly-hit shot that was straight and true, only for St Mary’s to restore their lead through Aidan McGarrity within thirty seconds.
The contest slipped into pedestrian pace with juts three scores in the last 22 minutes of the first half.
The sides were deadlocked at the changeover with MacNiallais taking his tally to five and the Gaoth Dobhair man might have had a greater score, but saw a shot well blocked by Ciaran McCooey when he wormed his way into a goalscoring position late in the first half.
Mac Niallais was in again, five minutes into the second period, when Michael Murphy slipped him in behind.
The space opened up for Mac Niallais who shot across goal, only for Rory Burns, the St Mary’s netminder, to make a strong save from a powerful attempt.
Donegal called on the heavy artillery at the break as Murphy and Neil McGee were taken on and the introduction of Stephen McBrearty helped inject new pace into their attack.
With a little more refinement, Donegal might have had the winning of the game in the early moments of the second half, with five wides inside the opening six minutes.
The dismissal of McGrath was a blow to Donegal, but they got their noses in front again when Mac Niallais kicked his fifth of the game for a free awarded following a foul on McBrearty.
Just at the point where it looked as if Donegal had done enough, St Mary’s blew the game apart. A brilliant break from St Mary’s ended in Johnstone racing through and blasting past Rodgers.
For good measure, McBride and Conall McCann added points.
Donegal were denied a penalty in the final play of the game when Ciaran Thompson was taken to ground. Referee Dan Mullan shook his head and while a penalty wouldn’t have changed the course of the game so late, it could have consequences when it comes to adding up the scoring difference after Wednesday’s final round of group games when Donegal take on Fermanagh in Enniskillen.
Donegal: Danny Rogders; Stephen McMenamin, Eamonn Doherty, Paddy McGrath; Jack O’Brien, Caolan Ward, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Micheál Carroll (0-1), Hugh McFadden; Martin O’Reilly, Frank McGlynn, Ciaran Thompson; Eoin McHugh (0-1), Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-6, 3f), Leo McLoone. Subs: Michael Murphy for McFadden (half-time), Neil McGee for Doherty (half-time), Stephen McBrearty for O’Brien (half-time), Cillian Morrison for Carroll (67).
St Mary’s College: Rory Burns; Aaron McKay, Patrick McAleer, Ciaran McCooey; Kevin McKernan, Niall McParland, Harry Loughran; Peter Carragher, Danny McBride; Conor Meyler, Conall McCann (0-1), Aidan McGarrity (0-1); Ciaran Mac Iomhár, Jack Grogan (1-1), Aidan Nugent. Subs: Patrick McBride (0-1) for Meyler (22), Matthew Fitzpatrick for Nugent (43), Ryan Johnstone (1-2) for Mac Iomhár (44), Darragh Kavanagh for Grogan (49), Colm Byrne for McGarrity (52), Ciaran Corrigan for McCooey (black card, 66).
Referee: Dan Mullan (Derry).Tags: