ARDAL MCDERMOTT’S DONEGAL shared the spoils with Down in an entertaining Conor McGurk competition fixture in Belfast yesterday.
Donegal 3-17 Down 3-17
Report and photograph courtesy of Donegal Mór Hurling
Donegal opened with a loss at Derry’s hands in a high-scoring encounter and after last week’s postponement due to the weather, Donegal were back in action against Down.
McDermott and his management team are still examining and experimenting different players for the first Allianz NHL Division 2B game against Mayo on February 14.
Photo caption: The Donegal team who drew with Down in the Conor McGurk Cup in Belfast yesterday
Yesterday’s game saw Down settle in to the game a lot better than the Donegal men, and within the first 10 minutes of the game had exposed the Donegal back line twice and score two goals.
However, this seemed to rally the Donegal men to start to battle. Whilst Down seem to control the ball in the air, Donegal were winning the ball on the ground and pierced the Down back line several occasions over the next 15 minutes.
Twice Donegal were awarded penalties from last ditch but illegal tackling by Down. Donegal capitalised scoring 1-1 from the penalties and at half time, Donegal were five points behind at 3-7 to 1-8.
The second half started as the first half ended, but with Donegal’s belief in themselves now rising. Tough and timely tackling from Stephen Gillespie in midfield broke down the opponents play on several occasions and Donegal were able to launch a quick attack yielding several points and a beautiful worked goal from Danny Cullen.
However Down were still able to work the ball around to a free man to take a shot, but the relentless pressure by the Tir Conaill men meant that generally off target.
Slowly Donegal chipped away at Downs lead and with a scramble goal by Sean McVeigh in the 25th minute, they were only a point behind. Again pressure on the Down backs gave Donegal a free to level proceedings with one minute to go and the score finished level at 3-17 each.
Donegal: Paul Burns; Marty McGrath, Pauric Doherty, Dara Grant; Niall Cleary, Joe Boyle, Christy McDermott; Paul Sheridan, Stephen Gillespie; Lee Henderson, Sean McVeigh, Sam Doherty; Kevin Campbell, Ronan McDermott, Danny Cullen. Subs: Conor O’Grady, Gavin Browne, Paddy Hannigan, Sean Curran, Colm Flood, Justin Browne, Bernard Lafferty, Stephen Doherty.