Donegal make light of conditions to give Moran the ideal start

 

With a splendid display, Donegal got their campaign off to a bright start for new manager Mickey Moran, when they overcame Offaly at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey.

The treacherous surface made good football difficult, but Donegal made light of the conditions and their half-time lead of 1-6 to 0-5 flattered Offaly.

Donegal had three goal chances inside the opening ten minutes which included a missed penalty by Adrian Sweeney which Offaly goalkeeper, Padraig Kelly, managed to tip onto a post and out for a `45'.

The only goal of the game came after 12 minutes when a high lob from Stephen Cassidy was dropped by Kelly and Johnny McCafferty nipped in to slide the ball to the net.

At one stage Donegal led by 1-4 to 0-1 but Offaly battled well, mainly through Mel Keenaghan to keep in touch. Three of Donegal's newcomers - Stephen Cassidy, Michael Doherty and Barry Monaghan - got on the scoresheet, while established forwards Adrian Sweeney and James Gallagher shared seven points between them.

Fifteen minutes into the second half Offaly were within two points at 0-8 to 1-7, but thanks to a brace of points from Adrian Sweeney and Johnny McCafferty Donegal took control again and held the margin at three points or more right to the end.

Offaly came in search of a goal in the last minute and it took a last gasp foot save from Tony Blake to deny Ciaran McManus in injury time.

The win was a great start for new manager, Mickey Moran, who had four debutants on the team. "I'm very pleased for the fellas. Overall the commitment shown was excellent. I felt that despite the bad conditions we played some nice football at times. In the first five or ten minutes the game could have been over. We missed a penalty and another couple of goal chances," said Moran. "We lost our shape a bit in the second half but we battled away.

"Offaly came here with somewhat a depleted team and I thought they put up a great performance and put it up to us," said Moran.

Donegal had excellent defensive performances from captain Damien Diver and Raymond Sweeney.

DONEGAL: T Blake; E Doherty, M Crossan, N McGinley; N Hegarty, R Sweeney, D Diver; J Gildea, B Monaghan (0-1); J Gallagher (0-4), M Hegarty, M Doherty (0-1); J McCafferty (1-1), A Sweeney (0-3), S Cassidy (0-1). Subs: J Scanlon for Crossan, M Caulfield for Cassidy, C Brennan for Monaghan, T Boyle for M Doherty.

OFFALY: P Kelly; C Daly, G Rafferty, J Brady; B Mooney, J Kenny, K Slattery; J Grennan (0-1), C McManus (0-1); D Ryan (0-1), N Coughlan, E Molloy; C Quinn (0-2), M Keenaghan (0-2), B Malone (0-2). Sub: C Farrell (0-1) for Molloy.

Referee: M Brady (Cavan).