DONEGAL BOWED out of the All-Ireland SFC last night after a quarter-final defeat to Dublin at Croke Park.Dublin saw Diarmuid Connolly and Eoghan O’Gara sent off while a Ryan McHugh goal helped Donegal stay in touch but, ultimately, their endeavours fell short as Dublin won 1-15 to 1-10.
- A missed chance?
IT FELT almost paradoxical that Donegal were still hanging by their fingernails to Dublin’s coat late in the game yesterday evening.
When Patrick McBrearty narrowed the margin to just three points when he popped a free between the Hill 16 posts and with Dublin reduced to 13 men, following the sending offs of Diarmuid Connolly and Eoghan O’Gara, there was a real chance.
Dublin had wiped them out at midfield and at one stage, when they opened up a seven-point lead early in the second half, threatened to really run away with it.
But with the game clock running out, Donegal were still in with a shout.
The problem was that in those late moments Donegal never looked like troubling Stephen Cluxton and McBrearty’s free to bring them within a goal proved to be a false dawn.
Michael Murphy, despite his own assertions during the week that he was perfectly fine, just didn’t look himself. That said, Donegal’s poor distribution into Murphy, who spent long portions of the game inside, didn’t afford him the chance to be dangerous.
A couple of times, Murphy was out in front, but the ball in lacked precision and a couple of the more frustrating darts went out over the endline.
Donegal were fortunate to be in the mix, but there ought to be plenty of regrets that they didn’t grab the game by the scruff, particularly with a two-man advantage in added time.
- Defeat spells the end of an era
AT the final whistle, it was hard not to feel that the end of the road had, finally, arrived.
Rory Kavanagh, who was coaxed back to play this year having previously retired in the wake of the 2014 season, also hinted that he will follow suit, saying that he had ‘probably’ played his final game for Donegal.
There will be questions, too, about a number of Donegal’s more experienced players with the futures of men like Neil Gallagher, Karl Lacey, Eamon McGee, Christy Toye and David Walsh sure to be the subject of discussion in the coming weeks and months.[adrotate group=”38″]
- Ryan McHugh
THE words of Martin Carney are still ringing.
Carney watched IT Sligo play in a challenge game early in 2014 as they prepared for the Sigerson Cup campaign and reckoned that Ryan McHugh was one of the‘most intelligent footballers’ he’d ‘ever’ come across. Big words from a man who’s seen quite an amount.
McHugh had caught Carney’s eye and the former Donegal and Mayo player wasn’t far wrong.
Last evening, again, McHugh was Donegal’s best player. He carried the fight to the Dubs throughout and was on the end of a fine move for a goal in the 44th minute, palming home after Eamon McGee centred.
With a number of Donegal’s experienced foot soldiers calling time on their inter-county careers, the likes of McHugh will become all the more important to the cause.
Even though beaten in a quarter-final, McHugh already seems set to win an All-Star this year.[adrotate group=”43″]
- Sendings off raise deeper questions
JIM Gavin sat in the lecture theatre-like media room in the Hogan Stand after a game that saw Diarmuid Connolly and Eoghan O’Gara sent off for the champions, who finished with 13 men.
The Dublin manager was less than pleased.
Connolly was sent off when he caught Anthony Thompson with a high challenge, having been booked earlier for an off-the-ball incident involving Ryan McHugh.
Gavin contested that Connolly had been ‘targeted’ by Donegal.
“Going into the game it was predictable that that would happen, that some of our players would receive special attention,” Gavin said.
“That was the case, and it’s up to the officials to act upon it, and if they don’t – the eight of them, the four umpires and the four men in black – then they’re letting the players down, on both sides.”
Donegal have seen it in big games, particularly with Michael Murphy being the victim of special treatment, while Mickey Harte noted similar with Sean Cavanagh and Mayo have made noises about the treatment of Aidan O’Shea.
It is, perhaps, something for authorities to have a think about when they convene.
Gavin was also miffed with the sending off of O’Gara. The substitute was sent off after referee Ciaran Branagan was alerted by one of his umpires to an apparent strike on Neil McGee, though replays showed that the decision was harsh – and Dublin will appeal that one.[adrotate group=”46″]
- Dublin don’t convince, but might have blown Donegal apart
ANALYSING Dublin isn’t an easy exercise.
Somehow they failed to put Donegal away, despite having led by seven points and looking in cruise control with 44 minutes played.
In the first half, Dublin passed up two glorious goal chances. After only 13 seconds, Diarmuid Connolly found himself one-on-one with Mark Anthony McGinley, but the Donegal goalkeeper saved superbly.
A little later, Connolly managed to slip the ball past McGinley, but his shot trickled inches wide of the far post.
Dublin got their first big test of the summer from Donegal and passed, though not with the flying colours they should have. Those goal chances could have opened the floodgates, but the examination of their credentials should stand Jim Gavin’s team in good stead.[adrotate group=”70″] Tags: