Allianz FL D1: Galway edge Donegal
Allianz Football League Division 1
GALWAY 1-12 DONEGAL 0-14
By Chris McNulty in Letterkenny
It was a case of deja vu for Donegal as, for the second week in a row, they lost right at the death.
Sean Armstrong’s excellent score, a minute from the end, made it two wins from two for Galway and leaves Donegal again cursing their Letterkenny luck.
It’s now just two wins in 11 League games at O’Donnell Park for Donegal since senior inter-county football made its return to the venue in 2007.
Galway, spurred by a first-half goal by Eamonn Brannigan, just had a little more nous than their hosts, who were left rue a glut of spurned chances and poor shot selection.
Donegal briefly led when the inspirational Patrick McBrearty - who boomed over nine points for Declan Bonner’s team - arched over in the 42nd minute, but it was short-lived as Galway soon regained a foothold.
The teams were level three times in the last 20 minutes before, finally, the experienced Armstrong, only just on as a substitute, notched up the match-winner.
Donegal were pipped at the post last Sunday in Killarney, when a brace of late points by Kerry left them empty handed and with Dublin at Croke Park next on their agenda, life doesn’t get any easier for a new-look Tír Chonaill.
A lively opening saw the sides share six points in the opening 11 minutes, but Galway broke for the opening goal four minutes later.
Corner-back Declan Kyne soared deep into Donegal territory and, with the home rearguard opening up, lofted in for the on-rushing Brannigan. Peter Boyle, the Donegal ‘keeper tried to narrow the margins, but Brannigan had long since picked his spot and tucked home.
Galway burst from the traps as Damien Comer and Paul Conroy landed scores in the first 90 seconds.
McBrearty opened the Donegal account with a 35-metre free, Johnny Heaney wriggled free to restore a two-point cushion.
McBrearty has been in sumptuous form of late and kicked ten points in last weekend’s defeat to Kerry in Killarney. The Kilcar man clipped two-in-a-row to level it up, including a gorgeous effort from the shadows of the packed stand.
Another McBrearty brace kept Donegal in touch, but a pair of quick-fire Shane Walsh scores - the second coming after Galway won possession from Boyle’s kick-out - had Galway commanding things once more.
Walsh stroked over from the ground after Ryan McHugh impeded Conroy, but a part of points late in the half from Stephen McBrearty and Paul Brennan ensured that Donegal were well in the game at the break when Galway led by two, 1-7 to 0-8.
After an energy-sapping and agonising loss to Kerry a week ago, Donegal boss Declan Bonner showed three changes to his side with Boyle, Stephen McBrearty and Darach O’Connor coming in to replace the injury Mark Anthony McGinley and Jamie Brennan and the suspended Nathan Mullins.
Boyle kept Galway at bay early in the second half with a wonderful reaction save. Comer looked to have found the net when he rose to fist goalward from Heaney’s ball across the square, but Boyle reached full-length to turn his effort over the top.
That came in between a pair of points from the McBrearty brothers, before Patrick’s eighth of the afternoon brought Donegal level for the first time since the opening quarter.
Ryan McHugh, with a magnificent curling effort, and a fisted point by sub Ciaran McGinley twice had Donegal on level terms, but Armstrong conjured up the winner.
Scorers for Donegal: Patrick McBrearty 0-9 (0-6f), Stephen McBrearty 0-2, Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh, Ciaran McGinley 0-1 each
Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 0-6 (0-4f), Damien Comer 0-3, Eamonn Brannigan 1-0, Paul Conroy, Johnny Heaney, Sean Armstrong 0-1 each
Donegal: Peter Boyle; Stephen McMenamin, Caolan Ward, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Ryan McHugh, Paul Brennan, Tony McClenaghan; Leo McLoone, Hugh McFadden; Stephen McBrearty, Odhrán Mac Niallais, Caolan McGonagle; Patrick McBrearty, Darach O’Connor, Martin O’Reilly. Subs: Eamonn Doherty for McClenaghan (24), Niall O’Donnell for O’Reilly (half-time), Ciaran Thompson for McGonagle (half-time), Mark McHugh for Doherty (54), Ciaran McGinley for S.McBrearty (62), Kevin McBrearty for Thompson (black card, 70).
Galway: Ruairí Lavelle; Declan Kyne, Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Eoghan Kerin; Cathal Sweeney, Gareth Bradshaw, Johnny Heaney; Paul Conroy, Peter Cooke; Seán Kelly, Shane Walsh, Eamonn Brannigan; Patrick Sweeney, Damien Comer, Adrian Varley. Subs: Padraic Cunningham for Varley (50), Gary O’Donnell for C.Sweeney (60), Thomas Flynn for P.Sweeney (60), Sean Armstrong for Cooke (63), Johnny Duane for Ó Ceallaigh (65).
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).