Harsh lesson for Donegal’s newcomers in Dr. McKenna Cup

Peter Campbell, Spor


Peter Campbell, Spor

Harsh lesson for Donegal’s newcomers in Dr. McKenna Cup
Donegal got the year off to an inauspicious start in Owenbeg as Derry proved much too strong. Donegal 0-8

Donegal got the year off to an inauspicious start in Owenbeg as Derry proved much too strong.

Donegal 0-8

Derry 1-16

For Rory Gallagher, it is a learning process and it remains to be seen how much he will learn from his first outing.

For much of the game they played second fiddle to a much more experienced Derry side, who turned the screw in the second half with the wind at their backs.

Donegal were outclassed in this period with the Oak Leaf men completely dominating the midfield area and Donegal could only manage three points, two frees and one from play.

Overall Donegal had only two points from play over the 70+ minutes and when you add in a wides tally of 12, this is one of the areas where improvement is needed.

A very healthy attendance of 3,035 were present for the first competitive game of the year.


Donegal got their campaign off to a flying start with Willie Gillespie finding the range on 45 seconds.

But thereafter in the first half finding the range was a big problem with the wides tally at half-time 10-3 in favour of Donegal.

Donegal had four debutantes - Eamonn Ward, Ciaran McGinley, Conor Parke and Eunan Doherty - and they had the wind advantage in the opening half.

They had plenty of possession in the opening quarter but all they had to show for it was a second point from a Marty O’Reilly free on 12 minutes after Hugh McFadden was fouled.

There was an early warning for the Donegal goal when Emmett McGuckin got on the end of a Mark Lynch centre with Michael Boyle deflected it wide for a ‘45’.

The same combination worked on 16 minutes when Lynch found McGuckin, who ghosted in behind Eamonn Ward and then fired to the net after a good dummy.

Within a minute and a half Derry added two points from Enda Lynn and Brian Og McAlary, both fisted points with the Donegal defence looking porous.

McGuckin won another contest with Ward on 20 minutes and even though he had a goal chance elected to fire over and Derry were 1-3 to 0-2 ahead.

Donegal did get back into it in the final 15 minutes with Marty O’Reilly pointing a free won by Dermot Molloy and Gary McFadden winning and pointing a free on 28 minutes. In between Michael Boyle made a great catch under pressure and under his own crossbar.

In the final minutes of the half Mark Lynch had two frees for Derry while Dermot Molloy pointed a ‘45’ to leave it 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval.

In the second half Donegal used three further debutantes - Joe Gibbons, Ryan Malley and a surprise inclusion Malachy McDermott of Moville.

But it was a half that Derry completely controlled. Mark Lynch, Daniel McKinless and James Kearney stretched the gap to six points with only eight minutes on the second half clock before Marty O’Reilly pointed a free.

Mark Lynch had an easy passage through for a point immediately and Conor McAtamney was denied a goal by a great save by Michael Boyle at the expense of a point.

Dermot Molloy got Donegal’s second point from play on 49 minutes after a Gary McFadden free dropped short, but once again Derry hit back with Daniel Heavron hitting a wonder point and Conor McAtamney had all the time in the world to push Derry 1-12 to 0-7 ahead with 19 minutes still to play.

Derry continued to dominate and Boyle again denied Liam McGoldrick with another great save; Benny Herron converted the ‘45’ and Emmet McGuckin pushed the margin to ten points.

Gary McFadden, from a free, had Donegal’s final score on 65 minutes while Liam McGoldrick and Mark Craig completed the scoring.

The only way is up for Donegal after this start with Michael Boyle the only standout performer.

Donegal: Michael Boyle, Eamonn Doherty, Eamonn Ward, Conor Parke; Cory Gallagher, Mark McHugh, Ciaran McGinley; Martin McElhinney, Gary McFadden (0-2,2f); Eunan Doherty, Eoin McHugh, Martin O’Reilly (0-3,3f); Willie Gillespie (0-1), Hugh McFadden, Dermot Molloy (0-2,1‘45’). Subs., Joe Gibbons for C Gallagher 37; Ryan Malley for M McHugh 47; Malachy McDermott for Molloy 55.

Derry: Eoin McNicholl; Oisin Duffy, Niall Holly, John O’Kane; Kevin Johnston, Declan Brown, Brian Og McAlary (0-1); Mark Lynch (0-4,3f), Conor McAtamney (0-2); Ciaran McFaul, James Kearney (0-1,f), Enda Lynn (0-1); Daniel McKinless (0-1), Emmett McGuckin (1-2), Barry McGoldrick. Subs., Liam McGoldrick (0-1) for McAlary ht; Daniel Heavron (0-1) for B McGoldrick 43; Benny Herron (0-1,45) for Lynn; Mark Craig (0-1) for McAtamney, both 52; Sean Brady for McGuckin 60; Jarlath Bradley for Kearney 55.

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)