Dublin and Donegal both preserve unbeaten records

Ballbofey challenge worth a month of traning, says Dublin manager Jim Gavin

Ground staff remove water from pitch prior to  Donegal v Dublin Allianz Football League Division One clash  on Sunday. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho/Presseye

Ground staff remove water from pitch prior to Donegal v Dublin Allianz Football League Division One clash on Sunday. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho/Presseye

 

Maybe the GAA should move the All-Ireland finals to February. It seems like anything can happen on these wild GAA Sundays when only mad dogs and Irishmen willingly brave the outdoors.

On another day of surprises in the Allianz National Football League, one constant held. Dublin came out of Donegal without a win, but with their unbeaten streak alive and well. The 32-game stretch dates back to their famous All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal in 2014.

After Rory Gallagher’s young team concocted two goals out of nothing here, finished by Jason McGee and Ryan McHugh, it looked as if Dublin’s run might well be bracketed by losses to Donegal. But it finished 2-5 to 1-8, Michael Murphy fearlessly chipping a free into the afternoon gale to earn his team a heartening result. They, too, had a record to keep. They haven’t lost in Ballybofey since the summer of 2010.

If Jim Gavin ever publishes his diaries, they are bound to reveal the importance of these winter road trips to the body and soul of the Dubs. The Dublin manager couldn’t have been happier afterwards, clearly exhilarated by the demands placed on his charges by the rawness of the day.

Clinical

“I think it was 0-5 to 0-2, we were well in control and they got two goals and all credit to Donegal for taking those opportunities and being very clinical with those finishes. But I thought the second half we came back out, we got a great score and we had some great moves and great composure. I thought our new guys did really well and mistakes will get made in conditions like this. You can’t buy that experience in Ballybofey. A passionate crowd, a class side like Donegal; that’s worth a month of training for me. We got some of our more experienced players back on the park as well and it’s building slowly for us.”

Rory Gallagher offered a quick laugh at the idea that Donegal donned the defensive cloak out of respect for Dublin’s attacking repertoire.

“You ask Dublin about that, they sent their full-back line forward and our boys tracked them back. It was a scrappy day and it was a difficult day to score, so maybe it was always going to be like that.”

It was incredibly testing, with sheets of midday rain necessitating two pitch inspections and mocking some of the deftest ball handlers in the game. Niall Scully finished the clean, scything move for Dublin’s 54th minute goal, but it was the more familiar boys of summer – MacAuley, Flynn and McManamon – who came in from the dugout to direct traffic as Dublin pushed for the win. Donegal also looked to the usual leaders: Neil McGee had a huge game at fullback and made several adventurous forays into full-forward country, while Frank McGlynn and Murphy’s fingerprints were all over this muddy afternoon.

Monaghan edge Kerry

Way down in Killarney, the elements were equally punishing and the Kerry men had to contend with a Monaghan side that came with a bold and simple game plan and made it work. The transformation of the Farney men under Malachy O’Rourke seems to know no bounds. Big names leave: Monaghan keep truckin’. A late red card for Bryan Sheehan marked a frustrating day for Kerry, who managed just two scores from play in their 2-8 to 1-10 defeat.

With the Tyrone-Cavan game falling victim to the ridiculously-named Storm Ewan, the result leaves Monaghan at the top of the first division after three games. O’Rourke will doubtlessly say over the week that he won’t be getting carried away. And he won’t. Still, better be at the top of the league as February blows itself out than at the bottom.

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