SOMEHOW, out of what seemed nowhere, Donegal salvaged a draw against Monaghan.
Donegal 1-20 Monaghan 4-11
By Chris McNulty at Sean Mac Cumhaill Park. Pictures by Evan Logan
They looked down and out when Conor McCarthy hit a first-half hat-trick for Monaghan, but eight points from Patrick McBrearty inspired the comeback.
Donegal were nine down and looking into the barrel of the gun after McCarthy’s purple patch.
Donegal saw Michael Murphy hobble off in the opening minutes, while McCarthy’s hat-trick looked to have put a bang in their proud record here.
But the old venue’s remarkable resistance came good again; although Donegal’s own defence will surely come in for scrutiny when this one is analysed.
Not since March 2010 have Donegal lost here in League football.
Indeed, in the last 29 League and Championship games by the Finn, they’ve lost only once.
That record looked in danger when Conor McManus – on as a substitute at half-time – scored a goal and a point to put Monaghan seven in front by the 46th minute.
However, led by McBrearty, Donegal hit eight of the last ten points to earn a share of the spoils..
Captain Murphy, so influential last weekend in the opening win over Tyrone, was forced off after just five minutes.
With only five weeks to the Ulster Championship clash at Down, the sight of Murphy’s hamstring in a strap poured worry down among the sheets of rain.
McCarthy’s opening goal had broken the dam in the tenth minute – and the Scotstown man had three goals in an 11-minute period that spelled out concerns for Donegal’s defence.
McCarthy got around Shaun Patton and overcame a despairing dive by Brendan McCole to bag the opening goal.
He repeated the trick seven minutes later, getting onto Karl O’Connell’s pass, staving off three Donegal players and slicing past Patton.
Donegal were rocked further when McCarthy, fed this time by Ryan McAnespie, finished for a third time.
The vessel was leaking and Donegal were paling water, but Michael Langan stemmed the flow. The St Michael’s man surged from deep and cracked a superb effort beyond Rory Beggan to the top corner in the 23rd minute.
Ten years ago this week, Donegal defeated Antrim in a dour Ulster Championship game denounced by Pat Spillane’s comments that whipped up a frenzy remembered to this day. It was the afternoon Patrick McBrearty, just 17 then, was introduced to senior championship football for the first time.
McBrearty tacked on a trio of points late in the first half to bring Donegal to within five points, but the interval brought much-needed solace for the home side.
Aside from McCarthy’s hat-trick, Donegal passed up several other goal chances and Patton had to come to the rescue in the 25th minute, a fine save with his feet denying Darren Hughes what seemed a certain goal.
Monaghan were reduced to 14 men when Conor McCarthy, who was in the sin bin for an earlier spell, was black-carded again for a late foul on Langan.
Aaron Mulligan, Michael Bannigan and O’Connell landed points to help Monaghan to a 3-7 to 1-8 interval lead.
Eoghan Ban Gallagher, absent from the squad last weekend, was restored with Oisin Gallen also elevated for a start on his home patch.
The game started at breakneck pace, Langan arching over after 18 seconds and the teams shared six points in as many minutes before McCarthy struck gold.
With a numerical advantage, Donegal began the second half brightly with Caolan McGonagle, Eoin McHugh and Gallen clipping points.
However, McManus tucked home a fourth Monaghan goal in the 43rd minute after O’Hanlon ripped through the hosts’ hearts again.
Donegal were down to 14 men when Daire Ó Baoill was given a second yellow card in the 52nd minute, but Donegal hit five points in succession to get back within two points.
McBrearty might have bagged a goal 11 minutes from the end, but had to settle for a point.
The Kilcar man’s eights of the evening drew Donegal level with the clock rapidly ticking while Monaghan were down to 13 men for the closing chapter when midfielder Killian Lavelle – a cousin of former Donegal star Brendan Devenney – was black carded.
The home hearts were in the mouths when McCarthy had one last swing, four minutes into added time, but he was off target and the breath could be draw.
Scorers – Donegal: Patrick McBrearty 0-8 (3f, 1m), Michael Langan 1-1, Oisin Gallen 0-3, Ciaran Thompson, Niall O’Donnell 0-2 each, Eoin Ban Gallagher, Peadar Mogan, Caolan McGonagle, Eoin McHugh 0-1 each
Monaghan: Conor McCarthy 3-1, Conor McManus 1-2 (2f), Aaron Muligan 0-3 (2f), Michael Bannigan 0-2 (1f), Ryan McAnespie, Karl O’Connell, Andrew Woods 0-1 each
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Neil McGee, Brendan McCole; Ryan McHugh, Paul Brennan, Peadar Mogan; Hugh McFadden, Caolan McGonagle; Niall O’Donnell, Ciaran Thompson, Michael Langan; Patrick McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Oisin Gallen. Subs: Daire Ó Baoill for Murphy (5). Eoin McHugh for Brennan (half-time), Odhrán Mac Niallais for McFadden (45), Stephen McMenamin for McGee (54), Paddy McGrath for Gallagher (63), Jason McGee for McCole (63).
Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie; Karl O’Connell, Karl McMenamin, Ryan McAnespie; Darren Hughes, Killian Lavelle; Steven O’Hanlon, Aaron Mulligan, Michael Bannigan; Conor McCarthy, Andrew Woods, Sean Jones. Subs: Conor McManus for Jones (half-time), Shane Hanratty for Bannigan (42), Niall Kearns for Woods (52), Jack McCarron for O’Hanlon (58), Colm Lennon for O’Connell (58), Gary Mohan for Mulligan (70+4).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).Tags: