Allianz FL D2: Donegal edge out Clare
Aliianz National Football League Division Two
DONEGAL 0-16 CLARE 0-13
By Derrick Lynch in Cusack Park
A strong finish from Donegal saw them fend off a stubborn Clare challenge to pick up the opening points of the National Football League Division Two.
Michael Langan opened the scoring with a free he had won himself, but Clare struck back to take the lead for the only time in the first half with points from Gary Brennan and a Keelan Sexton free.
Sexton had a goal chance soon after but dragged his shot wide on the left after racing in from the right wing. This seemed to spark Donegal into life, and they hit four in a row with a brace from Ciaran Thompson along with points from Langan and Eoghan Bán Gallagher to leave them 0-5 to 0-2 in front after the opening ten minutes.
Dean Ryan and Jamie Malone combined to good effect with Ryan applying the finish to cut the gap to two, but indiscipline in the Clare defence presented Langan with a chance to finish another free which he duly converted.
The best score of the opening half came soon after as Banner captain Gary Brennan went right through the heart of the Donegal defence to split the posts, but Langan landed another free to keep his side at arm’s length by 0-7 to 0-4 with 15 minutes to go to the break.
Clare then struck two in a row through Dermot Coughlan and David Tubridy to leave just the minimum between them, with Donegal replying Jamie Brennan with a tidy finish from a tight angle.
Another brace for the home side through David Tubridy kept the pressure on Donegal, but they could not get back on level terms. A quick fire double before the break through Jason McGee and Niall O’Donnell saw Donegal in front by 0-10 to 0-8 as they headed for the dressing rooms.
Clare hit the opening three points of the second period with Tubridy (2) and Brennan on target to send them into the lead, but Donegal were quick to reply with four in a row thanks to a brace from Jamie Brennan along with a McGonagle free and a fine effort from McGee.
That left the Ulster men 0-14 to 0-11 clear inside the closing ten minutes. Gary Brennan and Gavin Cooney split the posts to leave just the minimum between them as the game approached injury time, but Hugh McFadden and McGee notched over scores to see the Donegal men leave Ennis with both points.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Langan (0-4, 4f), Jason McGee (0-3), Jamie Brennan (0-3), Ciaran Thompson (0-2), Niall O’Donnell (0-1), Eoghan Bán Gallagher (0-1), Hugh McFadden (0-1), Caolan McGonagle (0-1, 1f)
Scorers for Clare: David Tubridy (0-6, 3f), Gary Brennan (0-3), Dermot Coughlan (0-1), Dean Ryan (0-1), Keelan Sexton (0-1, 1f), Gavin Cooney (0-1).
CLARE: Kieran Eyres; Kevin Harnett, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly; Dean Ryan, Aaron Fitzgerald, Eoghan Collins; Gary Brennan (c), Cathal O’Connor; Cian O’Dea, Jamie Malone, Dermot Coughlan; Kieran Malone, Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy.
Subs: Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare) for Collins (47 mins), Sean Collins (Cratloe) for Kieran Malone (53 mins), Eamon Tubridy (Doonbeg) for Eyres ( 58 mins), Darragh Bohannan (Shannon Gaels) for Jamie Malone (61 mins), Gavin Cooney (Eire Óg) for Coughlan (65 mins).
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Conor Morrisson, Caloan Ward, Brendan McCole; Paul Brennan, Eamonn Doherty, Ryan McHugh; Hugh McFadden, Michael Langan; Niall O’Donnell, Ciaran Thompson, Caolan McGonagle; Jason McGee, Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Jamie Brennan.
Subs: Martin McElhinney (Naomh Micheál) for Brennan (43 mins), Leo McLoone (Naomh Conaill) for McGonagle (55 mins), Stephen McMenamin (Aoadh Rua) for Gallagher ( 65 mins), Peadar Mogan (Naomh Naille) for Doherty (78 mins)
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)