Fitter, stronger and playing with a clear pattern, epitomised by their superb support play, Donegal cruised to a 21 point win over Clare in west Clare on Sunday.
The Donegal girls illustrated the seriousness with which they prepared for this game when they overnighted at the Dromoland Inn. Having beaten Armagh the previous week, Donegal showed their class all through this game in Kilmihil, although Clare did play some good football in the opening 15 minutes.
The home county were backed by a significant breeze in the opening half and when Ailish Considine pointed a 16th minute free, they led 1-3 to 1-0. Emma O’Driscoll scored the games opening score but Donegal replied immediately with a Niamh Hegatry goal, which was created by a quickly taken free.
Clare had their best spell in a three minute period shortly after when Gráinne Nolan goaled after a Niamh Keane point attempt had hit the post and come back into play. However Considine’s pointed free was Clare’s last score. They didn’t manage to raise a flag of any sort in the remaining 44 minutes of football.
Come half-time Donegal led 4-4 to 1-3 following lethally finished goals from Roisin Curran, Shannon McGroddy and outstanding full forward Amber Barrett.
Curran, McGroddy and Niamh Hegarty added a point each before the interval as Donegal established a 10 point interval advantage. The visiting county completely dominated the second half with substitute Sarah Patton adding their fifth goal late in the half. They kicked eight second half points with Amber Barrett arrowing over four exceptional points while wing back Aoife McDonnell raised two white flags.
Were it not for the bravery of Clare goalkeeper Aoife O’Neill, the John Burke managed team would have been beaten by more. Aside from the Éire óg player, Niamh Keane and Gráinne Nolan gave their all for Clare who didn’t lack effort but were not in the same class as Donegal.
Donegal had a number of impressive performers including full back Emer Gallagher and midfielder Karen Guthrie. All of their forwards looked dangerous with Amber Barrett outstanding at full forward.
Donegal: Laura Gallagher (Termon); Nicole McLaughlin (Termon), Emer Gallagher (Termon), Deirdre Foley (Carnonagh); Aoife McDonnell (Naomh Conaill), Cara Hegarty (Moville), Rosin Boyle (St Eunan’s); Kath Hernon (Glenfin), Karen Guthrie (Glenfin); Shannon McGroddy (Termon), Niamh Hegarty (Moville), Eilish Ward (St Nauls); Rosin Curran (Cloughaneely), Amber Barrett (Milford), Treasa Doherty (Carndonagh). Subs: Sarah Patton (Aodh Ruadh) for Rose Boyle (9 mins-inj); Emma McCrory (Robert Emmets) for Roisin Curran (48 mins inj), Geraldine McLaughlin (Termon) for Shannon McGroddy, Niamh McLoughlin (Moville) for Aoife McDonnell (both 52 mins); Gemma Glackin (Glenfin) for Deirdre Foley (55 mins), Kanisha McKinney (St Eunans) for Nicole McLaughlin (56 mins).
Scorers: Niamh Hegarty (1-4, 0-2f), Amber Barrett (1-3), Shannon McGroddy (1-1), Roisin Curran (1-1), Sarah Patton (1-0), Aoife McDonnell (0-2), Karen Guthrie (0-1f).
Wides: 12; Frees: 16; 45s: 1
Clare: Aoife O’Neill (Éire óg); Roisin Considine (Liscannor), Laurie Ryan (Banner Ladies), Gráinne Harvey (West Clare Gaels); Fiona Tuohy (Doora-Barefield), Becky Mahon (Kilmihil), Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihil); Niamh Keane (Banner Ladies), Eimear Hillery (Liscannor); Emma O’Driscoll (Banner Ladies), Carol O’Leary (Newmarket), Roisin Howley (Burren Gaels); Gráinne Nolan (Banner Ladies), Ailish Considine (Kilmihil), Roisin Looney (Cooraclare). Subs: Clare Hestor (Fergus Rovers) for Roisin Looney (30 mins); Aislinn Meaney (Doora-Barefield) for Carol O’Leary, Kate Coughlan (Kilmihil – both 40 mins); Ciara Cahill (Doora-Barefield) for Fiona Tuohy (52 mins), Sarah Browne (Kilmihil) for Gráinne Nolan (55 mins), Katie Connole (Burren Gaels)
Scorers: Gráinne Nolan (1-1), Emma O’Driscoll, Ailish Considine (f 0-1 each).
Wides: 4; Frees: 29; 45s: 1
Referee: Seamus Mulvihill