Donegal hurlers got their Allianz Division Three league campaign off to a winning start, proving much too strong for Fermanagh.
The final margin in Fr. Tierney Park, Ballyshannon, flattered Fermanagh with Donegal much the better side in all areas of the field.
If the sides were to meet on a firm sod later in the year, you would expect Donegal to put up a much bigger score.
As it was, it was more than enough against Fermanagh. The Donegal men were having their first game since winning the Nicky Rackard and manager Ray Durack felt there were plenty of cobwebs.
They were caught on the hop before the ball was thrown in, being in the huddle when the National Anthem struck up some three minutes from 2 p.m. and they remained in the huddle throughout.
Donegal were ahead by 1-6 to no score after 21 minutes and were cruising. And although Fermanagh hit back with two points in as many minutes, they were dealt a crushing blow when midfielder Daniel Teague was red carded for an off the ball clash with Enda McDermott.
The Maguire men had an uphill battle with 15, but they were always going to be in huge trouble when they lost a man.
Lee Henderson made a great start for Donegal with three points in seven minutes, two frees and a ‘65’. Paul Sheridan and Danny Cullen, after a lovely interception, had the first points from play before Henderson added a free.
Then came the opening goal with Ciaran Mathewson breaking through. His shot was saved by Fermanagh ‘keeper Mark Curry, but the rebound fell to Henderson and he made no mistake.
Sean Corrigan (free) and Francis McBrien opened the Fermanagh account before they lost Teague to the straight red card.
Danny Cullen and Sean McVeigh stretched the Donegal lead to 1-8 to 0-2 before three Corrigan frees gave Fermanagh hope, but before half-time Henderson with a 65, and Enda McDermott with a goal and a point left Donegal clear by 2-10 to 0-5 at the break. Ciaran Mathewson was again involved in the second goal, his effort coming back off the crossbar for McDermott to finish.
Within two minutes of the restart Fermanagh had struck for their goal, Declan McGarry getting on the end of a free. His kicked effort came back off the crossbar and that man Sean Corrigan was on hand to power home.
Donegal responded with Henderson and Mathewson points before Corrigan had two more placed ball frees to reduce the margin to 2-12 to 1-7.
But that was as close as they would get as Danny Cullen, after a 60m run, and Henderson kept the Donegal score ticking. Corrigan and Ryan Bogue had points either side of a Donegal goal chance for Kevin Campbell and Sean McVeigh before Mathewson took over the free taking role when Henderson was given a rest, replaced by local Ciaran Kilgallon.
Fermanagh had a goal disallowed for a square ball when substitute David McGorman finished a Bogue free to the net with 17 minutes left.
Mathewson was to add three more points before the end, while Fermanagh ‘keeper Mark Curry denied Kevin Campbell from point blank range.
Ciaran Kilgallon got his name on the scoresheet but was unlucky to injure himself in the process while Sean McVeigh completed the scoring for Donegal.
Fermanagh’s wing-back Francis McBrien added his second point and was their only point scorer from play, all the other points coming from placed balls.
Donegal: Paul Burns; Martin McGrath, Joe Boyle, Justin Browne; Christopher McDermott, Jamsie Donnelly, Martin Bonner; Paul Sheridan (0-1), Danny Cullen (0-3); Ronan McDermott, Enda McDermott (1-1), Sean McVeigh (0-2); Lee Henderson (1-7, 4f,2’65s’), Kevin Campbell, Ciaran Mathewson (0-4,2f). Subs., Paddy Hannigan for J Bonner; Eugene Organ for R McDermott, both 46; Ciaran Kilgallon (0-1) for Henderson 58; Michael McGee for Kilgallon 66.
Fermanagh: Mark Curry; Shane Mulholland, Declan McGarry, Eoin Mahon; Fergus Bannon, John Paul McGarry, Francis McBrien (0-2); Ryan Bogue (0-2,2f), Daniel Teague; Martin Beggan, Eoin Morrissey, Tomas Cleary; Paul McGoldrick, Shea Curran, Sean Corrigan (1-9,9f). Subs., David McGorman for Cleary 48; Matthew Teague for S Curran 55; Joseph Gavin for Bannon 56; Barry Duffy for Morrissey 57; Oisin Boyle for D McGarry 60.
Referee: Brendan Sweeney (Cavan)