This morning Christy Toye turns 31 but he celebrated his birthday in style yesterday as he helped Donegal get a share of the spoils with Meath.
Toye turned back the years as he ran at Meath in the second half but in the end it took a magnificent pointed free from Michael Murphy from near the sideline to get the draw.
Jim McGuinness’s men are sitting on the top of the table, two points better off than Down, Monaghan and Armagh, who are all on five points.
At this stage it would seem the race for the league title is between this quartet, with Donegal still looking good and in pole position for one of the promotion spots.
Apart from the superb winner with what was the last kick of the game, Michael Murphy was excellent from placed balls, hitting 0-6.
“We would have been disappointed if we lost the game. We felt we had done enough and created enough chances in the second half to get something out of the game,” Jim McGuinness insisted afterwards.
The Donegal boss felt the heavy pitch was the reason were off the pace in the early stages of the game.
“We were very flat early on and Meath were very good early on. We pushed on very hard in the second half and we had a number of goalmouth skirmishes and I felt we were a little unlucky not to get at least one goal out of them.”
Donegal were off the pace in the opening quarter and found themselves five points behind 0-7 to 0-2 after 23 minutes. A lobbed Frank McGlynn goal, just before the half-hour mark, finally cranked Donegal into action. They were still behind by two points at half-time. Seconds after McGlynn’s goal Micheal Newman netted at the other end for the Royals and they led 1-7 to 1-5 at half-time.
McGuinness introduced Neil Gallagher and Darach O’Connor early in the second half after Meath had extended heir lead out to four points. And Karl Lacey replaced Ryan McHugh, who picked up a black card.
The teams were level three times in the closing quarter before Graham Reilly gave Meath the lead again four minutes from the end of normal time. In the closing minutes the Meath posts led a charmed existence before Murphy produced the magic with his late pressure free.
“In light of our first half performance it is a positive result. We are still top of they table and it sets us up nicely for next weekend’s game with Down.
“Down are a good side and James McCartan will have them well prepared and up for the game.
“It is the type of game and challenge we want as we get ready for the drier days down the road. It is very much a case of up and at again this week working on where we were weak today and building on the positives from today’s game.”
McGuinness reported no major injury worries after yesterday’s game. However, he did confirm that Patrick McBrearty - who wasn’t even among the replacements - was his only worry.
“Patrick picked up a knock. It is a knee injury and we didn’t even tog him to day. I don’t know what the story is with him yet for next Sunday against Down and if he will be fit to play or not.”
This is sure to be a worry for U-21 manager Maxi Curran. McBrearty is captain of the Donegal U-21s who play Fermanagh on Wednesday week, March 19th, in the first round of Ulster U-21 championship.