DONEGAL squandered two late chances to earn a draw as Galway came from seven points down to grab a win in Letterkenny.
Donegal 2-7 Galway 2-8
By Chris McNulty at O’Donnell Park. Pictures by Evan Logan
Donegal led by seven early in the second half, but Galway corner-backs Johnny Heaney and Séan Kelly hit the goals to turn the tide.
In front of 3,800, Donegal’s luckless run at O’Donnell Park continues and it’s now just two wins in their last 16 outings, a sequence stretching back to 2007.
In the dying embers of this one, Donegal had two opportunities to draw the tie.
However, Ciaran Thompson was wide with a 45-metre free and captain Michael Murphy – who scored Donegal’s opening goal from a first-half penalty – had a similar outcome when he had a go almost eight minutes into added time.
Murphy’s penalty, netted in the 22nd minute, gave Donegal a 1-3 to 0-4 buffer at half-time.
Seven minutes into the second half, Thompson added a second major for the home side. Set up by Ryan McHugh, Thompson arrowed high to the net and Donegal had a seven-point lead. Surely, they thought, it would be enough. Not so.
Next door to the General Election count at the Aura Leisure Centre, Donegal’s tally figures – including a fairly positive half-time exit poll – didn’t come true as Galway, after something of a re-count, managed to exceed the quota.
Galway stirred immediately after Brennan’s goal and Heaney scurried up from corner-back to blast past Shaun Patton.
A pair of Shane Walsh frees inched Galway back into it and, with Paul Brennan in the sin-bin, Donegal were rattled when the other visiting full-back netted.
In a moment reminiscent of James Durcan’s goal for Mayo in Ballybofey two weeks ago, Kelly slalomed in and a low finish found the bottom corner.
Murphy reduced the arrears with an advanced mark, but Michael Daly and Walsh scored two in as many minutes to put Galway in front by two.
Ciaran Thompson tacked on a free to bring the home side to within a point and Donegal thought they had levelled things up when Murphy batted over from Paul Brennan’s ball in. A square ball infringement saw the effort chalked off.
The Tribesmen finished with 15 men as Michael Daly was sent off two minutes from the end.
Donegal were without Hugh McFadden as a result of the knock he sustained in last Sunday’s win over Navan. Caolan McGonagle returned from his injury to take his place in the XV, while Daire Ó Baoill, out since an injury sustained in the McKenna Cup last month, also returned to action off the bench.
The first-half was more stop than stop-start, much of it owing to a rather bizarre happening in the 18th minute.
It had appeared pretty straightforward when Jamie Brennan’s searing speed, having taken a pass from Michael Langan, took him into space before he had his heels clipped and referee Joe McQuillan awarded a penalty.
Galway goalkeeper Connor Gleeson took his protests a step too far and was sent to the sin bin by McQuillan. Replacement net minder Ronan Ó Beoláin came into the action and, after a prolonged discussion, Galway had to sacrifice a man, with Finnian Ó Laoí the unfortunate who had to go off for ten minutes.
Murphy, four minutes after the foul on Brennan, stepped up to slam home past Ó Beoláin.
It took Donegal until the 13th minute to find their range – and they might well have been off the mark with a goal.
Murphy fielded high above Séan Mulkerrin and off-loaded to the nippy Peadar Mogan. The St Naul’s man eyed the bullseye but a rasping shot, with the aid of Gleeson’s fingertips, was over the crossbar.
Donegal were in again three minutes later when Murphy created the opening. Murphy broke across the end-line and fed Jamie Brennan, but his effort was scooped from the goal-line by John Daly.
Galway, via points from Shane Walsh and Robert Finnerty, were in front at that stage before Murphy’s penalty broke the resistance.
Donegal were 1-3 to 0-4 ahead at half-time.
While Brennan steered over a classy point at one end, Galway hit back with Damien Comer and Finnerty.
There were almost seven added minutes at the end of part one, when Donegal were two in front.
Thompson ignited their hopes with goal number two and they had a handsome lead.
Back in 2009, Donegal allowed Mayo come from nine down to draw in O’Donnell Park.
Talk of an O’Donnell Park ‘curse’ was labelled as a potentially ‘lazy’ excuse by Brennan during the week and he was right: Donegal have plenty to examine from this one before they arrive at the choice of venue.
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Caolan Ward, Neil McGee, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Ryan McHugh, Conor O’Donnell, Odhrán McFadden-Ferry; Caolan McGonagle, Michael Langan; Eoin McHugh, Peadar Mogan (0-1), Paul Brennan; Ciaran Thompson (1-1, 1f), Michael Murphy (1-3, 1-0pen, 1f, 1 ’45, 1m), Jamie Brennan (0-2, 1m). Subs: Niall O’Donnell for Mogan (35), Andrew McClean for McGonagle (half-time), Daire Ó Baoill for E.McHugh (55).
Galway: Connor Gleeson; Séan Kelly (1-0), Séan Mulkerrin, Johnny Heaney (1-0); Gary O’Donnell, John Daly, Cillian McDaid; Ronan Steede, Cein D’Arcy; Finnian Ó Laoí, Damien Comer (0-1), Michael Daly (0-1); Robert Finnerty (0-2), Shane Walsh (0-4, 2f), Michael Boyle. Subs: Ronan Ó Beoláin for Gleeson (32), Conor Campbell for McDaid (35+3), Paul Conroy for Ó Laoí (44).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).Tags: