McGonagle plays key role as Donegal turn things around
Midfielder’s goal and defensive work helps secure comeback win over Meath
Caolan McGonagle’s late goal helped Donegal complete a comeback against Meath in Ballybofey. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho
Donegal 1-13 Meath 0-14
Declan Bonner felt Donegal passed a real test of their resolve as they staged a late comeback to overcome Meath in Ballybofey on Saturday.
On a shivering cold night, Caolan McGonagle batted in a 59th-minute goal to take Donegal back from the brink, reducing Meath’s lead to a single point.
The Royals didn’t score for the last 20 minutes and points from Ciarán Thompson, Eoin McHugh and Jamie Brennan completed the turnaround.
“Four down going into the last quarter, it would have been easy for that young team to fold, but they stuck at it,” said Donegal manager Bonner.
“It was fortuitous the way it came, but sometimes you make your own luck.
“Those lads are in possession of the jerseys and it won’t be a case of anyone walking straight back in when other players come back.
“It’s a work in progress, but the pleasing things were the resolve, desire and belief in the last 10 minutes. There is a real resolve there.”
Meath led 0-8 to 0-7 after an entertaining first half, before the Royals took control with a four-point burst.
McGonagle followed his goal up with a heroic block as Meath were stung into action and the big Buncrana man fetched a couple of kick-outs late on to ease the pressure.
Bonner added: “The big plays in the game came from Caolan. He put his body on the line. The block was outstanding, but that showed the fighting spirit that is in the group. His desire and belief will grow from that.”
DONEGAL: MA McGinley; C Ward, B McCole, C Morrison; E ‘Ban’ Gallagher, R McHugh, E Doherty; H McFadden, C McGonagle (1-0); C Thompson (0-5, two frees), M McElhinney, M Langan (0-1); N O’Donnell (0-3, two frees), J Brennan (0-2), M O’Reilly (0-1, mark).
Subs: L McLoone for Langan (h/t); J McGee for McElhinney and S McMenamin for O’Reilly (both 46 mins); E McHugh (0-1) for Doherty (67), P Brennan for O’Donnell (70+5).
MEATH: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, R Ryan; J McEntee (0-2), D Keogan, N Kane (0-2); B Menton (0-1), S McEntee (0-2); B Brennan, D Campion (0-3), E Devine (0-1); B McMahon, M Newman (0-3, two frees), T O’Reilly.
Subs: C O’Sullivan for Devine (47 mins), J Conlon for McMahon (55), J Scully for Campion (67), M Burke for Newman (60+2).
Referee: J Henry (Mayo).