A FANTASTIC POINT from Ciaran Thompson gave Donegal the narrowest of victories over Mayo in the North-West Under-21 Cup this afternoon.
Donegal 1-9 Mayo 1-8
Mayo came from six points down to level late on but Thompson, from the shadows of the O’Donnell Park stand on 62 minutes, sealed the win.
Regardless of the narrow loss, Michael Solan’s Mayo, who were much changed, are in the final of the fledgling competition.
For a while, it looked as though Stephen McBrearty’s fortuitous goal was going to be enough for Donegal.
McBrearty’s 36th minute free-kick from 40 metres was dropping short but Mayo wing-back Barry Duffy’s attempted catch saw the ball squirm past goalkeeper Scott Kilkeer to put Donegal 1-6 to 0-5 in front.
However, Mayo rallied and on 57 minutes got back to within a point through a blistering goal from Liam Irwin, who swilled before shooting into the top corner. Fergal Boland soon levelled.
With Sligo’s meeting with Fermanagh postponed, it means a waiting game for Donegal manager, Declan Bonner.
Bonner’s side went down last weekend against Fermanagh, having opened the competition with victory over Sligo. Mayo were convincing winners in both their opening two fixtures, 1-12 to 0-8 over Fermanagh and 3-12 to 0-4 when faced with Sligo.
It means that Mayo and Donegal finish off their three outings with four points apiece, with Mayo’s points difference +23 compared to Donegal’s +4. After two games, Fermanagh have two points and are -6. Head-to-head will not count if Fermanagh beat Sligo as there will be three teams on four points. The Erne County need at least a 10-point win.
In a tepid first half, it took 17 minutes for Donegal to register so much as a shot, which fell wide from the boot of Thompson but Declan Bonner’s side did improve towards the break.
Mayo, on 20 minutes, were 0-3 to 0-0 to the good, courtesy of careful usage of possession when going forward. Points from Mickey Murray and Boland were added to Colm Reape’s opener in the first minute.
Donegal came to life thanks to two fine scores from Michael Carroll – last year’s minor captain – and were in front by the 27th minute thanks to efforts from Thompson and a Lorcan Connor free.
It was 0-5 to 0-4 at half-time for the home side, with substitute Conor Doherty edging Donegal in front just after Boland had briefly levelled it up.
Andrew McClean was introduced for Donegal at half-time, replacing Conor O’Donnell and the Kilcar wing-back took just 35 seconds to get on the scoresheet. Mayo struck back through a free from Ronan Carolan.
After McBrearty’s goal, Carroll’s third point of the afternoon put Donegal 1-7 to 0-5 ahead on 41 minutes.
Danny Rodgers, the Donegal goalkeeper, stood up firm to block a shot at goal from Cathal Barrett, the Mayo substitute, on 56 minutes.
However, Rodgers had no chance with Irwin’s blistering goal three minutes from time before Boland squared things up at 1-8 apiece. Donegal lost Doherty to what appeared to be a rib injury and the player left O’Donnell Park in an ambulance afterwards.
That parity was how it looked as it was going to end, with Caolan McGonagle missing an injury time free, only for Thompson to seal the win with his fantastic score.
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Jack Scally, Bruce Waldron, Kieran Gillespie; Eamonn McGrath, Conor O’Donnell, Cian Mulligan; Nathan Gavigan, Caolan McGonagle; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Aodhán McGinley, Michael Carroll (0-3); Lorcan Connor (0-1, 1f), Ciaran Thompson (0-2), Stephen McBrearty (1-1, 1-1f). Subs: Conor Doherty (0-1) for Gavigan (21), Andrew McClean (0-1) for O’Donnell (half-time), Adam Neely for Connor (39), Conor Morrison for Scally (47), Christian Bonner for McGinley (50), Mark Coyle for Doherty (56).
Mayo: Scott Kilkeer; Eoin O’Donoghue, David Kenny, Ciaran Harrison; Barry Duffy, Michael Hall, Michael Plunkett; Mickey Murray (0-1), Val Roughneen; Fergal Boland (0-3), Brian Reape, James Lyons; Morgan Lyons, Colm Reape (0-2, 1f), James Carr. Subs: Ronan Carolan (0-1, 1f) for Carr (22), James Kelly for Hall (half-time), Jason Forkan for Kenny (49), Liam Irwin (1-1, 1f) and Cathal Barrett for M Lyons and Reape (53), Ryan Lynch for Murray (56), TJ Byrne for J Lyons (59), M Lyons for Boland (60, black card).
Referee: Simon Foley (Leitrim).Tags: