Donegal wrapped up their pre-season preparation with a comfortable nine point challenge win over Roscommon, in Convoy, yesterday.
The win was Donegal’s second as they prepare for the new season which starts on Sunday next with a mouthwatering Dr Kenna Cup tie against Tyrone in O’Donnell Park.
A little over two weeks ago they ran out 5-15 to 1-10 winners over Fermanagh, also in Convoy. And while the goal rush was not repeated in yesterday’s encounter, except for a brief period at the start and again early in the second half, Donegal always looked the more likely winners.
Last season’s minor captain Darach ’Gigger’ O’Connor - son of Roscommon star of the 1970s John’ ‘Jigger’ O’Connor - and Colm McFadden scored the goals, one in each half, for what was a strong enough Donegal selection.
McFadden, Eamon McGee, Frank McGlynn, Karl Lacey, Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson and Rory Kavanagh were the regulars in the starting fifteen, while Michael Murphy, Mark and Ryan McHugh along with Paul Durcan were introduced in the course of the game.
Other regular squad members that saw action were reserve goalkeeper Michael Boyle, Eamon Doherty, Declan Walsh. Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy (who all started), Gary McFadden and Luke Keaney and Matthew Smyth (introduced at half-time).
As well as the Jigger O’Connor, Odhran MacNiallais and Malin’s Stephen McLaughlin were the new faces in the team. Both O’Connor and MacNiallais started and McLaughlin was introduced in the second half.
Worringly for Jim McGuinness, O’Connor, who was playing well, was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury in the closing minutes of the opening half.
And it was a similar story with Karl Lacey, a hamstring injury on the stroke of half-time, forced the former Player of the Year out. Both must be now doubtful for next Sunday’s clash with Tyrone.
The game was played at a lively tempo for three quarters of the way and until Colm McFadden netted Donegal’s second goal.
That was on 53 minutes and opened up a seven point lead for the locals who had led 1-7 to 0-4 at half-time.
McFadden’s goal more or less ended the game as a contest after Rosscommon had shown well in the opening minutes of the second half to cut the Donegal lead to just two points.
McFadden’s goal and Roscommon’s Donal Shine being shown the game’s only black card - for an innocuous enough looking challenge - were the game’s big turning points.
Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and Colm McFadden - who ended the game with a tally of 1-4 - got Donegal off to a flying start, with points in the opening two minutes.
While Donal Keane pulled one back for the Shannonsiders, Donegal were soon in the driving seat. McFadden judged the wind to perfection to land a ‘45’ after Molloy was denied with a late lunging dive from a Roscommon defender.
The goal did arrive shortly after on 11 minutes when Jigger O’Connor, from a very tight angle. The ball was cleared by Niall Daly but was adjudged by the umpires to have crossed the line.
Leading 1-3 to 0-1, Donegal, courtesy of two quick fire points from Leo McLoone, had extended their advantage out to seven by the time Craig Burns posted Roscommon’s second point on 26 minutes.
Shine with a 35 metre added Roscommon’s third point a minute later before McFadden and Declan Walsh raised flags at the other end.
Shine had the final say of the half from a 40 metre free on the stroke of time.
Roscommon enjoyed their best spell at the start of the second half as Cathal Cregg hit two quickfire points on the resumption.
And when Shine knocked over two medium range frees on 40 and 41 minutes the margin was down to two, 1-7 to 0-8.
But when Shine walked afterwards and McFadden banged home goal number two after a good work from MacNiallais, to restore the locals seven point advantage, the game was up for the visitors.
As the game fizzled out in the last quarter Brick Molloy (3, one free), and Michael Murphy scored for Donegal, while Fintan Cregg and Ciaran Murtagh posted late points for Roscommon. Donegal: Michael Boyle; Eamon Doherty, Eamon McGee, Frank McGlynn; Karl Lacey, Leo McLoone (0-2), Anthony Thompson; Rory Kavanagh, Odhran MacNiallais; Antoin McFadden, Martin O’Reilly, Declan Walsh (0-1); Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy (0-4,1f), Colm McFadden (1-4, ‘45’, 1f), Darach ‘Jigger’ O’Connor (1-0). Subs: Michael Murphy (0-1) for D O’Connor (29, inj); Ryan McHugh for K Lacey (35, inj); Paul Durcan for M Boyle; Mark McHugh for M O’Reilly, Luke Keaney for E Doherty; Gary McFadden (0-1) for A McFadden (all h/t); Matthew Smyth for R Kavanagh (56); Martin O’Reilly for C McFadden (49) Stephen McLaughlin for M O’Reilly (59).
Roscommon: Tadgh Lowe; Sean McDermott, Niall Carthy, Ronan Stack; Conor Daly, Niall Daly, Ciaran Cafferkey; Fintan Kelly, Cathal Shine; Donal Keane (0-1), Craig Burns (0-1), David O’Gara; Conor Devenney, Donal Shine (0-4,4f), Cathal Cregg (0-2). Subs used: Ciaran Murtagh (0-1); Paul Kelly, Mark Melly, Fintan Cregg (0-1).
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin (Malin).