THE DONEGAL LEAGUE hopes of another long run in the Oscar Traynor Trophy suffered a huge and surprise blow today at The Moss.
Donegal League 1 Monaghan-Cavan League 2
Last year’s semi-finalists, Donegal, were the architects of their own downfall in Drumoghill as they fell two goals behind and left themselves with too much to do on a frustrating afternoon.
Substitute Kyle Black, one of three changes rang by manager Brian Dorrian at the break, prodded home for Donegal early in the second half, but they couldn’t force a second breakthrough to draw level.
Firm favourites to win this one, it was certainly a shock defeat for Donegal.[adrotate group=”80″]
First-half strikes by Enda Hessin and Dean Connolly left Donegal staring up from the base of a mountain at half-time on a day when the hosts just couldn’t click to life.
Even after Hessin blasted home in the 27th minute, Donegal were in with a chance but when Connolly turned in the second there was a feeling that the goose was cooked.
Donegal had a decent start without making much inroads and a Glenn Gallagher strike in the eighth minute that was always rising was about as close as they came.[adrotate group=”38″]
Monaghan-Cavan League came into it and it took a smart intervention by Donegal captain Chris Malseed to deny Connolly a sight of goal before Gary Hessin headed into the arms of Gallagher from a Mark Smyth cross.
Donegal had their moments and Jamie Smith, the Monaghan-Cavan goalkeeper, saved from Richard Moore at his near post after the Drumoghill ace made the most of a tight situation.
Gavin McGlanaghey just couldn’t convert at the far post after Moore flicked on Benny Bonner’s cross.
After Gary Hessin powered at Gallagher from distance, Donegal fell behind and it was a goal that will have the management tearing the hair from their scalps.
David McEntee was denied by a goal-line block by Paul Sweeney after Mark Mulligan’s cross wasn’t cut out, but Donegal could only watch as full-back Enda Hessin let fly to the net from distance.
Donegal lived dangerously and breathed a sigh of relief when McEntee riffled over after a good move involving Mulligan and Gary Hessin.
Monaghan-Cavan added their second four minutes before half-time and, again, it was a goal that left Dorrian and his backroom staff fuming.
Donegal conceded possession much too easily and, after Gallagher parried away Gary Hessin’s shot, Connolly tucked the rebound into the net.[adrotate group=”76″]
Gary Merritt tried his luck late in the half, but just missed the target and a good interception by Jamie Boyle thwarted the advances of McEntee after he managed to find himself in around the back.
Donegal were semi-finalists in this competition last season when a 3-1 loss at Clare prevented them from making the final for the first time since 1983, when they won the Cup.
Only five starters from the semi-final in April began today at The Moss: Boyle, Bonner, Malseed, Merritt and Ryan Shiels.
Milford United’s Black was another who was involved last season and, three minutes into the second half, he pulled a goal back. Benny Bonner’s ball down the left set up a race between Black and Smith, with the lively attacker getting there first to bravely steer home.
On the hour, another Donegal substitute, James Melly, had to save his own blushes. After giving the ball away to McEntee on the edge of the box, the Kildrum Tigers man slid in to brilliantly turn the ball off the line.[adrotate group=”53″]
Donegal tried in vain to get on level terms but when, with almost five minutes of added time gone, Malseed headed wide form a Kevin Doran cross, the game was up and, with away games to Inishowen and Sligo-Leitrim to come, Donegal’s task just got harder.
Donegal League: Mark Gallagher; Jamie Boyle, Ryan Shiels, Paul Sweeney, Benny Bonner; Gary Merritt, Chris Malseed, Glenn Gallagher, Micheál Doherty; Richard Moore, Gavin McGlanaghey. Subs: James Melly, Philip Whyte and Kyle Black for Shiels, Gallagher and McGlanaghey (all half-time), Kevin Doran for Doherty (69), Ciaran McGeady for Sweeney (83).
Monaghan-Cavan League: Jamie Smith; Enda Hessin, John McAree, Mark Thornton, Sarto Quigley; Dean Connolly, Simon Douglas, Mark Smyth, Gary Hessin; David McEntee, Mark Mulligan. Subs: Stevie O’Connor for G.Hessin (73), Ronan Stirratt for Smyth (80), Stephen Smith for Mulligan (90).
Referee: Mick LaganTags: