DONEGAL staged a stunning comeback to overhaul Roscommon for a previous win in their opening Division 2B clash of the year.
Donegal 1-13 Roscommon 1-11
By Chris McNulty at O’Donnell Park
In injury time, Mickey McCann’s men came from three points down to win by two, spurred by a Ronan McDermott goal.
Donegal looked destined for defeat, but the tabled flipped when McDermott converted at close range after Declan Coulter’s initial attempt was blocked.
McDermott’s goal brought Donegal level before majestic long-range scores by Niall Cleary, on as a late substitute, and Coulter sealed the win for newly-promoted Tir Chonaill.
It was an afternoon where penalties seemed as if they might tell the tale of the tape.
Cathal Dolan scored one in the first half, but was denied by Donegal net minder Luke White in the second. At the other end, Coulter was off target with a penalty at the end of part one.
Coulter drilled over two points inside the opening 50 seconds and the teams were tit-for-tar through a lively opening 11 minutes.
With Coulter arching over two more, these from frees, Donegal were 0-4 to 0-3 in front.
Roscommon, who had Cathal Kenny, Gearoid Egan and Dolan on target, pushed themselves in front with the opening goal in the 14th minute.
Coor Mulry soared in the Sallaghraine sky to fetch a long punt into the mixer. Mulry was pulled by Donegal full-back Stephen Gillespie, who was black-carded for his troubles, and Dolan’s penalty was riffled low past Luke White, the Donegal goalkeeper.
A ’65 by Dolan and a superb long-ranger by Oisin Kelly opened up a four-point lead for Roscommon.
Donegal hit back with Ronan McDermott, Gerry Gilmore and Coulter raising white flags, but Dolan squeezed over from distance.
With the last action of the first half, Donegal were given a golden chance to draw level. However, Coulter – after himself being fouled by Paul Dolan – riffled wide from a penalty.
Donegal have bid farewell to stalwart Joe Boyle, who has retired from the inter-county game, while Davin Flynn and Kevin Kealy have stepped away.
Last March, just before the country came under Covid-19 lockdown for the first time, Donegal overcame Armagh in a thrilling Division 3A final to earn promotion.
When action resumed at the tail-end of the year, Donegal came from eight points down to defeat Mayo in the Nickey Rackard Cup final at Croke Park. McCann’s men will still operate at Nickey Rackard level this year having been denied a promotion into the Christy Ring Cup.
Coulter clipped between the sticks with barely ten seconds played in part two and Gilmore narrowed the margin to the minimum.
White came to Donegal’s rescue five minutes into the second half when he got down low to turn a Dolan penalty around the post with his hurl. Gavin Brown’s foul on the menacing Dolan saw Colm Cumming outstretch the arms for a second Roscommon penalty.
Donegal survived a scare when Naos Connaughton rose to bat down from a Dolan attempt that dropped short, but his attempt fizzed wide.
Just before the water break, Roscommon broke their second half duck when Mulry posted, but Donegal stayed on the coat tails with Coulter converting a free from the left-hand side.
With the clock in the red, Donegal hit back just in the nick of time to snatch victory.
Donegal: Luke White; Gavin Brown, Stephen Gillespie, Mark Callaghan; Christopher McDermott, Sean McVeigh, Michael Donoghue; Declan Coulter (0-9, 5f), Ciaran Matthewson; Danny Cullen, Richie Ryan, Jack O’Loughlin; Bernard Lafferty, Ronan McDermott (1-1), Gerard Gilmore (0-2). Subs: Conor O’Grady for Matthewson (55), Pádraig Doherty for Donoghue (58), Oisin Grant for Lafferty (66), Niall Cleary (1-0) for Ryan (68).
Roscommon: Enda Lawless; Paul Dolan, Darren Fallon, Sean Trundle; Darragh Heavey, Peter Kellehan, Eoin Coyle; Ben McGahon, Cathal Dolan (1-5, 1-0pen, 3f, 1 ’65); Oisin Kelly (0-1), Cathal Kenny (0-3), Naos Connaughton; Jack Lohan, Conor Mulry (0-1), Gearoid Egan (0-1). Subs: Connell Kennelly for G.Egan (35), Cillian Egan for Kelly (44), Eoghan Costello for Heavey (55), Shane Naughton for Coyle (62), Trevor Fallon for Kenny (70+3)
Referee: Colm Cumming (Antrim).Tags: