Mickey McCann’s Donegal opened their Allianz National Hurling League Division 2B 2019 campaign with a defeat against Kildare at O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny.
Donegal 1-13 Kildare 2-16
Report by Charlie Collins at O’Donnell Park.
Kildare’s Brian Byrne (1-5) proved deadly for Kildare on the day, while major positives and spirited performances from several Donegal hurlers standing out.
Donegal started the match in impressive fashion, Joe Boyle sending the sliotar between the Kildare post for the opening point after one minute.
However, Donegal never had it all their own way and Kildare made sure to respond immediately through Ryan Casey.
The Kildare man forced his way onto the scene in open play before thumbing one over Paul Burns head to square the game.
On the other end, Kildare goalkeeper Paddy McKenna had a busy opening five minutes, with Donegal flowing with dangerous quick-fire attacks.
After five minutes, Gavin Browne sent a long ball into the danger area and it should have easily been dealt with by McKenna but, somehow he dropped the sliotar into his own net, a true gift for Donegal – who won’t score an easier goal all season.
Declan Coulter added another point for Donegal with a long-range free, while Ciaran Matthewson also extended Donegal’s early lead.
Kildare’s James Burke got the Leinster side’s second point of the game after six minutes to narrow the gap. The left corner-forward played a superb long-range effort towards goal before Bernard Deay made it a one-point game.
Just before the 15-minute mark, Kildare were awarded a penalty with Burns initially denying Coalan Smith but the scramble that followed led to the penalty, which Paddy McKenna pointed to level the fixture.
Before half-time the scoring flowed for both teams, McCann’s outfit racking up another four points before halt-time.
Declan Coulter added three points to his tally while Ronan McDermott also got his name on the scoresheet.
To Kildare’s credit, they showed resilience and they responded perfectly in turn, with Byrne adding two points either side of Deay’s score from open play, leaving the score at 1-7 to 1-6 to Donegal before the break.
In the second half, David Herity’s side really began to turn the screw. Four points, three from open play, in three minutes, turned the game on its head and gave Kildare the lead for the first time on opening day.
Declan Coulter and Kevin Kealty tallied two more points for Donegal at the start of the second period but Kildare’s blitz paid dividends.
A Byrne free-kick after 42 minutes started the rally which was followed by scores from Coalan Smith and two Kevin Whelan points.
Matthewson showed his worth two minutes later when he restores parity for Donegal, finishing a brilliant drive from the sideline.
From there though, Kildare took real charge with Byrne and Deay on the scene again, like annoying buzz by the ear, they didn’t let the Donegal defence breath, proving difficult for the backline to handle.
Their flurries were mounting at this point and so was their scores, with Byrne adding his (number) score of the game, while Deay secured his (Number), Whelan and Rian Boran also affixed further damage.
However, Donegal, who were three behind, ensured there was going to be a close climax when Coulter and Matthewson stepped up to narrow the game to two points.
While McCann’s outfit continued the good fight, Kildare’s star man Byrne added a darting goal to kill any hope of a Donegal revival following a Barry Cormack and Paul Divilly scores after 69 minutes.
Donegal showed massive heart on the day and battled to the final whistle, Coulter adding a consolation point at the end.
But their efforts were not enough as they fell to a six-point deficit – on another day Donegal could’ve snatched a victory.
DONEGAL: Paul Burns, Mark Callaghan (Conor Parke 10′), Stephen Gillespie, Pauric Doherty, Ciaran Finn, Gavin Browne ( 1-0 ) (Lee Henderson 65′), Jack O Loughlin, Joe Boyle ( 0-1 ) , Declan Coulter 0 – 7 ), Sean McVeigh, Danny Cullen, Ronan McDermott ( 0- 1) , Dylan Duffy (Oisin Rooney 40′), Ciaran Mathewson ( 0- 3 ), Kevin Kealy ( 0-1 ).
SUBS: Conor Parke for Callaghan (10minutes), Oisin Rooney for Duffy (40 minutes) and Lee Henderson for Browne (65 minutes).
KILDARE: Paddy McKenna ( 0-1 ), Cathal Derivan, John Doran, James Dolan, Diarmuis Cahill, Martin Fitzgerald, Rian Boran ( 0-1), Kevin Whelan ( 0-3 ), Ross Kelly (Conor Dowling), Paul Divilly ( 0-1 ), Brian Byrne ( 1-5 ), James Burke ( 0-1 ) (Reece Gavin 69′), Ryan Casey ( 0-1) (Barry Cormack 63′), Caolan Smith ( 0-1), Bernard Deay ( 1-1 ).
SUBS: Conor Dowling for Kelly (58 minutes), Barry Cormack (0-1) for Casey (63 minutes) Reece Gavin for Burke (69 minutes).Tags: