A gritty performance from the Donegal ladies GAA team saw them go achingly close to getting a result against Mayo in their National League fixture in Castlefin yesterday.
It was a barely recognisable team to the one who fell foul of Dublin the previous week.
Based on yesterday’s performance they can count themselves unlucky not to have got at least a draw out the game and even had a last gasp scramble to actually win it in the dying minutes.
Despite trailing for much of the match they continually battled their way back into contention and a rousing finale couldn’t halt a rampant Cora Staunton notching over the winner for the visitors.
Indeed, if woman-of-the-match Staunton could have been contained further, Michael Naughton’s side may have pulled away as the game wore on.
Staunton kicked the first point of the game with a minute gone before Geraldine McLaughlin equalised. Donegal’s defence worked hard to limit Mayo in the first 15 minutes but Staunton added two more with Grace Kelly and Fiona McHale also getting on the score sheet leaving it 0-5 to 0-1 after 20 minutes. McLaughlin pulled a free back before Mayo ace Staunton blasted home a goal and Doireann Hughes pointed. McLaughlin responded with a goal for Donegal after a good pass from Roisin Friel. Keeping the pressure up she added another goal making it 1-6 to 2-4 in the 29th minute. Staunton replied with four solid scores on the trot before Karen Guthrie tipped a fine score from play leaving it 1-10 to 2-5 at halftime.
Just a minute into the restart and Staunton pointed from play and from a free. Guthrie pointed a free and Aisling Cunningham pointed from play leaving it 1-12 to 2-7.
Staunton replied with another close range goal in the 12th minute, Roisin Friel added a Donegal point before Staunton hit three on the bounce. Eilish Ward replied with score before Aisling Cunningham rattled the net in the 25th minute. McLaughlin pointed a free to make it 2-15 to 3-10. Aine Hanlon and Staunton added Mayo points from play.
With the clock ticking down Donegal dug deep and continued to fight for every ball and commit to every challenge. This paid off when a through ball was fed in on the Mayo goal by Cunningham as Geraldine McLaughlin’s slight touch took it away from oncoming keeper Tarpey, while it looked to have pushed her too tight into the corner, she turned and shot from the most acute of angles and lobbed the ball neatly into the net to leave just one score in it.
Within a few seconds of the kick out they won possession and a scramble almost saw the ball in the Mayo net but a good save denied a goal. Mayo won possession and a Staunton wide was invaluable to them as time ran out and the hung on for a narrow victory.
Donegal: Niamh Mailey, Kelly Wilson, Nicole McLaughlin, Emer Gallagher, Rose Boyle, Katie Herron, Therese McCafferty, Kate Keaney, Karen Guthrie (0-2,1f), Roisin Friel(0-1), Eilish Ward(0-1), Niamh Carr, Geraldine McLaughlin(3-4, 2f), Karen Feeney, Ciara Hegarty. Subs: Aisling Cunningham (1-1) for N Carr 12mins,
Mayo: Aisling Tarpey, Martha Carter, Helena Lohan, Amy Bell, Kathryn Sullivan, Mary Naughton, Caoilfhionn Connolly, Sarah Tierney, Clodagh McManamon, Marie Corbett, Grace Kelly(0-1), Fiona McHale (0-1), Doireann Hughes)0-1), Aileen Gilroy, Cora Staunton (2-13, 6f). Sub: Anna Tuohy (0-1) for C Connolly