Donegal run out of steam


Donegal 0-13 Offaly 1-11: Offaly consigned Donegal to Division Two football for 2006 with a one-point win at Fr Tierney Park, Ballyshannon.

From a position of being six points ahead after 10 minutes, Donegal once again failed to close the deal and lost for the fifth time in six games, three of those by just one point.

Donegal came out of the traps in fine style, whereas Offaly got their act together only toward the end of the first half and were within touching distance at the break, trailing 0-7 to 0-4.

The scoreline hardly reflects an open first half with goal chances at either side. James Coughlan could have had a hat-trick, being denied twice by Paul Durcan and once by a goalline block by Raymond Sweeney.

At the other end Donegal's Stephen McDermott did almost everything right on 20 minutes but saw his rasper come back off the crossbar.

A goal then might have sealed the game as Donegal led by 0-7 to 0-1. Fortunes were to change after that and six minutes from the break Donegal lost Brian Roper to a yellow card.

The change of fortunes was complete early in the second half when Offaly were back on level terms, thanks to the prompting of Ciarán McManus at midfield. Full-forward Niall McNamee was leading the Donegal defence a merry dance and he hit Offaly in front for the first time on 45 minutes. A minute later Offaly were in control as James Coughlan beat Durcan in the Donegal goal.

Donegal responded, making changes in their full-back line but the horse had bolted. The home side did get back within a point a couple of times before former All-Star Adrian Sweeney, in as a substitute, converted a free in added time to level the game once more.

With a win needed, Donegal had a last-gasp chance but Michael Hegarty was dispossessed and Offaly raced upfield for Neville Coughlan to clinch victory and almost certain survival in Division One.

Offaly showed great courage to recover from the early l blitz and over the 70 minutes were by far the better side. If they had taken their goal chances they would have won easily - and they also kicked some 13 wides.

In McManus they had a real leader, but Mark Daly, Scott Brady, Neville Coughlan and Alan McNamee also played a big part.

DONEGAL: P Durcan; K Lacey, R Sweeney, E McGee; S Carr, B Monaghan, K Cassidy; S McDermott (0-1), N Gallagher; C Toye (0-1), M Hegarty (0-1), B Roper (0-1); R Kavanagh, B Devenney (0-4, frees), C McFadden (0-3, two frees). Subs: R Bradley (0-1) for Roper (yellow card), D Diver for Kavanagh, B Dunnion for Carr, A Sweeney (0-1, free) for McFadden.

OFFALY: P Kelly; C Daly, C Evans, S Sullivan; N Grennan, S Brady, K Slattery; C McManus (0-2, one 45), A McNamee; N Coughlan (0-3), M Daly (0-2), J Reynolds; C Quinn, N McNamee (0-2), J Coughlan (1-2, two frees). Subs: R Malone for J Coughlan, J Kenny for Quinn.

YELLOW CARD: Donegal: B Roper.

Referee: P Carney (Roscommon).