Down get promotion bid back on track
Mourne men inflict first league defeat of the season on wasteful Donegal
Down’s Daniel McCartan and Owen Costello battle with Donegal’s Dermot Molloy at Páirc Esler in Newry. Photo: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho
Although they were clinging on in the final few minutes of a dour and dogged contest, Down merited the two league points as Donegal slipped to their first defeat of the campaign at Páirc Esler yesterday.
The 2012 All-Ireland champions trailed to Conor Garvey’s sixth-minute point and they were behind for the rest of the game.
Donegal kicked 12 wides and had numerous other shots which dropped short in a poor display which frustrated their manager Jim McGuinness.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t retain our composure, settle down and kick our scores when they were on,” he said.
“It might have been a different result if we had, but we didn’t do it, so you have to give Down the credit. . . There are three teams on seven points now so it’s all to play for in the remaining two games.”
James McCartan’s side were denied a clear penalty after eight minutes when Conor Laverty (who received a black card late on for hauling down Paddy McBrearty) was clearly dragged down by Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durkan. Down led by 1-6 to 0-5 at half-time.
Both sides were guilty of poor distribution and spilling the ball when in possession but Down were a bit more clinical in front of the posts. Niall Madine got the only goal of the game after 13 minutes.
Not the first time, Down punched big holes through the middle of the Donegal defence and although Jerome Johnston’s pass across the goal was missed by Donal O’Hare, Madine picked the ball up, turned and drilled it low through a crowded square into the net.
Mark Poland was key to everything for Down and gave Leo McLoone a torrid time before Frank McGlynn was moved onto him in the second-half.
Some of the Down players overplayed the ball but Poland picked off two nice scores in the opening half and hurt Donegal with his direct style.
Donegal were living off scraps and three of their scores came from Down mistakes. Dermot Molloy got their first point after 18 minutes after Down defender Ryan Boyle turned the ball over. He added a second point ten minutes later after Donal O’Hare’s blunder.
Michael Murphy showed a glimpse of his class with the best point of the opening half from near the sideline, around 50metres out, as Donegal stayed in touch despite hitting six first-half wides.
Down opened up a five-point lead for the first time in the game through Madine’s point in the last minute but a free from Colm McFadden in stoppage time reduced Donegal’s deficit to four at the interval.
Donegal came flying out of the blocks with two points in the opening two minutes of the second-half from Martin McElhinney and Leo McLoone.
Down responded through O’Hare (free) and Conor Garvey before Michael Murphy converted a ‘45’ in the 44th minute to leave a goal between the sides. Donegal then hit three terrible wides in quick succession, McFadden’s free and David Walsh’s effort being particularly poor.
The second half descended into mediocrity and neither side scored for a shocking 21 minutes. Neil Gallagher was lucky to survive a sending-off for lashing out at Ryan Boyle, an episode which sparked a melee between the teams.
DOWN: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, O Costello; R Boyle, A Carr, C Garvey (0-2); P Turley, K McKernan (0-1); C Laverty (0-1), M Poland (0-2), C Maginn; D O’Hare (0-2, 2f), N Madine (1-1), J Johnston. Subs: R Johnston for J Johnston (56 mins), B Coulter for Madine (68 mins), P Fitzpatrick for Laverty (BC, 70 mins)
DONEGAL : P Durkan; E McGee, N McGee, K Lacey; F McGlynn, L McLoone (0-1), A Thompson; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney (0-1); M McHugh, C Toye, O McNelis; C McFadden (0-2, 2f), M Murphy (0-3, 1f, one ‘45’), D Molloy (0-2). Subs: N Gallagher (0-1) for Kavanagh (45 mins), D Walsh for McNelis (45 mins), P McBrearty for Molloy (45 mins), D O’Connor for Toye (60 mins).
Referee: Cathal O’Hagan (Tyrone)