Donegal hurlers maintained their impressive run of form to dominate against Louth in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny yesterday.
They notched up another fine victory as their recent run of good form continued with a comfortable victory over Louth in the National Hurling League Division 3A clash.
Out to avenge last year’s double defeat at the hands of the ‘Wee county’ men, they wasted no time in piling the pressure on the Louth defence.
A near miss by Lee Henderson almost notched the first score of the chilly afternoon from a free he won in a hurley snapping challenge but the gusty crossfield wind just guided the effort from his new stick narrowly wide.
In the seventh minute they made amends when Danny Cullen’s pass was well grabbed by Ronan McDermott who fed it to Enda McDermott who fired over a point from play. Louth equalised a minute later from David Mahony from play.
On the 15 minute mark Paul Sheridan struck a sweet long range score making it and Lee Henderson added a free to make it 0-3 before Paddy Hannigan extended it to a three point advantage with a fine score from play.
While it didn’t show on the scoreboard Louth weren’t shy in attacking play but some resolute defending by the Donegal backs kept them at bay. They did manage another point from a Gerard Smith free.
Donegal then notched up the first goal on the scoreboard at the 24 minute mark when Ronan McDermott floated in a high looping shot that was met by a rampant Stephen Boyle who made it 1-4 to 0-2.
Paul Sheridan added a point before there was another goal as Donegal began to dominate the half. Following a goalmouth scramble involving Hannigan and Ronan McDermott that forced an excellent save from Johnny Carter in the Louth goal but the danger wasn’t cleared leaving McDermott to catch the rebound and make it 2-5 to 0-2.
Sean McVeigh’s tidy hand pass found Henderson who tipped over another point on 29 minutes. Louth added a third point from Dermot Murphy before an in-form Danny Cullen cancelled it out with a fine score from play.
Just as the half ended a high ball from midfield was met by Ronan McDermott who’s goal made it Donegal 3-7 to Louth’s 0-3 at the half way mark.
Straight away in the second half Louth pulled a point back from Nigel Stanley before a sharp shooting Henderson hit a perfect 65 restore the 13 point lead. A 48th minute free saw him add another. Two minutes later he started a move that involved Cullen who left Sean McVeigh in position to extend their lead.
Henderson pointed a free shortly after to continue Donegal’s dominance leaving clear day light between the teams at Donegal 3-11 to 0-4.
Henderson added another free on 54 minutes before Louth started to rally back with a point from play Brian Corcoran, swiftly followed by pointed free from Dermot Murphy at 57 minutes. Louth sub Derek Horan tipped over another making it 3-12 to 0-7.
By now the Donegal team had enough of a gap to allow subs to the grace the field with Ciaran Mathewson replacing Hartigan and he wasted no time in making his mark with a point from play after he was involved in the set up run with Cullen and Enda McDermott. Nigel Stanley pulled one back for Louth who despite the clear difference in class between the teams on the day, never dropped their heads and battled on but were lucky not to have been reduced to 14 men as their frustrations were brought out on Browne and Hannigan.
By now Donegal had introduced Shane Galllen and Michael McGee and Louth pressed on in a damage limitation exercise.
They introduced Shane Maguire and Padraig Egan and managed to pulled back two further scores, both frees, from Derek Horan as the clock ticked down leaving Donegal with yet another impressive victory.
Donegal: Paul Burns, Martin McGrath, Justin Browne, Brian Hartigan, Christopher McDermott, Joe Boyle, Jamsie Donnelly, Paul Sheridan (0-1), Danny Cullen (0-2, 1f), Enda McDermott (0-1), Sean McVeigh (0-1), Lee Henderson (0-6, 5fs), Stephen Boyle (1-0), Paddy Hannigan (0-1), Ronan McDermott (2-0). Subs: Ciaran Mathewson (0-1) for Harigan (58min), Shane Gallen for C McDermott (69min) Michael McGee for E McDermott (68Min)
Louth: Johnny Carter, Donal Rafferty, Wesley Morrisey, Donail McArdle, Daire McKieran, Shane Callan, Dermott Murphy (0-2, 1f), Nigel Stanley (0-2), Gary Rellis, Andrew Mackin, Darren Hanrahan, David Dunne, David Mahony (0-1), Gerard Smith (0-1, F), David Kettle. Subs Mark Wallace (0-1) for G Smith, Derek Horan (0-3, 3f)for D Kettle, Padraig Egan for A Macklin, Shane Maguire for D Mahoney.
Man of the match
Solid performances across the board, from defence to attack, and some good goal keeping as well, it was a tough pick. Henderson bagged another tally of frees and while Ronan McDermott was a handful up front it was a consistent display in both attack and defence from Danny Cullen that gives him the nod.
Liam Mac Amhlai let the game flow freely, although to some, a little too freely, especially for allowing messy rucks to persist a touch too long. Could have been firmer on two of the Louth yellow cards