THE DONEGAL LEAGUE weathered the storm in more ways that one to seal their passage to the last 12 of the Oscar Traynor Cup.
Donegal League 5-2 Sligo-Leitrim League
Ten minutes into the second half at a windswept Drumoghill, Lee McKillen levelled it at 1-1 for the visitors, cancelling out Eoin Sheridan’s opener for Donegal.
At that stage the side managed by John Loftus – who had to win to join the Inishowen League in the knock-out stages – seemed the most likely, especially with a driving gale and their back and the hosts penned in.
Photo caption: The Donegal League side who defeated the Sligo-Leitrim League in the Oscar Traynor Cup this afternoon in Drumoghill. Photo courtesy of Stephen Doherty
However, Brian Dorrian’s side managed to steady themselves and soon found their groove.
- Oscar Traynor Group results
- Cavan-Monaghan 0-5 Donegal League
Inishowen League 7-4 Sligo-League League
Donegal League 1-2 Inishowen League
Sligo-Leitrim League 4-1 Cavan-Monaghan
Donegal League 5-2 Sligo-Leitrim
Cavan-Monaghan 1-1 Inishowen League
Gary Merritt – who also missed two penalties on the day – put the hosts 2-1 up before a marvellous goal from Jamie Boyle removed whatever doubt remained.
The conditions were so poor at that stage, referee Joe McHugh momentarily had to take the two teams off the field of play for shelter.
But when they returned, further goals from Merritt and Paul Sweeney, either side of a Mark McGoldrick penalty for Sligo-Leitrim, sealed a 5-2 win.
When the tills were totted, Donegal finished with six points from their three outings and can now plan for the last 12 come spring.
Donegal opened the scoring as early as the seventh minute courtesy of a fine goal on the volley from Sheridan after a whipped cross from right-back Boyle.
They had chances to further that advantage, with Merritt particularly involved. He drew two saves from Graham Lee in the Sligo-Leitrim goal before getting an even better opportunity from the spot.
Referee McHugh awarded the penalty after Brian Lafferty was nudged in the back but although Merritt’s spot kick was well struck, it clipped the inside of the post and Michael Casey cleared.
That was a minute before the break and when half-time did arrive, Donegal went in 1-0 in front.
Donegal League players celebrate with goalscorer Eoin Sheridan following their opening goal against the Sligo-Leitrim Leitrim in the Oscar Traynor Cup this afternoon at Drumoghill. Photo courtesy of Stephen Doherty
A single goal lead did look a little precarious and Sligo-Leitrim began to press as the second half took shape.
The managed to level 10 minutes into that second period when McKillen drove across Christopher Sweeney in the Donegal goal after a squared pass from Christopher Kelly.
Donegal were up against it but fashioned another well-crafted goal to get their noses back in front on 66 minutes.
This time it was Lafferty who played the ball into Merritt, who received with his back to goal but having taken a controlling touch on his chest, turned and finished with aplomb into the bottom corner.
That lead was added to just three minutes later when the weather was at its very worst. There was driving hail in the face of Boyle as he made his way forward. He kept going and having cut inside unleashed an unstoppable shot high into the net for 3-1.
Then, after their brief interlude off and then on, the players continued.
Six minutes from time, Donegal captain Christopher Malseed won a tackle in midfield and substitute Damien Crossan set Merritt free. Again his finish was assured, poking the ball through the legs of Lee for 4-1.
Merritt then had a chance to post his hat-trick. Patrick Woulfe was penalised for handball in the penalty area but Merritt, opting to go down the middle with his second spot kick, saw Lee save with his legs.
At the other end, from the third penalty of the afternoon, McGoldrick made no mistake following a handball in the area.
Donegal, though, scored the final goal of an entertaining game when Paul Sweeney tapped home from close range when Darren McGeever had provided the ammunition from a corner.
Donegal League: Christopher Sweeney; Jamie Boyle, Paul Sweeney, Ryan Shields, Benny Bonner; Brian Lafferty (Darren McGeever 73), Philip Whyte (Damien Crossan 80), Chris Malseed, Eoin Sheridan; Darren Dolan, Gary Merritt.
Sligo-Leitrim League: Graham Lee; Damien Scanlon, Colm Jinks, John Connolly, Patrick Woulfe; Michael Corrigan (Sean Pender 74), Ross McLoughlin, Lee McKillen, Michael Casey; Mark McGoldrick, Christopher Kelly.
Referee: Joe McHugh.Tags: