Ten years on from meeting in the league decider both Donegal and Armagh will come face to face again in the division 2 decider in two weeks after both recorded convincing wins in Clones on Sunday.
Davy McLaughlin’s side turned in a strong second half performance to shake off a stubborn Westmeath side to run out 12 point winners. The Leinster side frustrated Donegal in the opening period packing their defence and with it the eventual winners panicked and had to be happy with just three scores in that half. However, it was enough to give then a four point interval lead 2-1 to 0-3.
They got the perfect start with Geraldine McLaughlin setting up Amber Barrett for a goal after just 90 seconds. McLaughlin added a free but wasteful shooting and poor shot selection was to let Donegal down. Westmeath responded with two points before Yvonne McMonagle struck for their second major on 19 minutes. Westmeath had the final say with a point from Karen Hegarty but the first half was all about the defensive system set up by Westemeath who had shipped 6-13 when the sides met earlier in the league.
The second period was more open as Donegal were much more patient on the ball and making better work of creating the openings. A point from Eilish Ward and a second goal of the game from McMonagle saw them eight clear just five minutes after the resumption. The Lake county’s only scores of the half came with a point followed by a super Karen McDermott goal with still 21 minutes remaining. They almost struck for a second goal almost immediately but Laura Gallagher was equal to it and keep her side four clear.
At the other end the eventual winners began to show why they came through the campaign unbeaten to date. The full-forward line of McMonagle, Barrett and McLaughlin hit 3-8 between them but in fairness the other players deserve as much credit for their work rate and in setting up the opportunities.
That superb full-forward trio were all on target along with team captain Katy Herron as Donegal struck eight unanswered points after that Westmeath goal. In the other semi final Armagh had a surprising comfortable outing against Cavan running out 2-20 to 1-8 winners.
Donegal: L Gallagher; D Foley, E Gallagher, Nicole McLaughlin; Niamh McLaughlin, C Hegarty, R Boyle; K Herron (0-1), A McDonnell; E Ward (0-1), N Hegarty, S McGroddy; Y McMonagle (2-3), A Barrett (1-1), G McLaughlin (0-4, 0-3f). Subs: K McKinney for A Barrett (56), R Curran for R Boyle (57), B Gallagher for G McLaughlin (60)
Westmeath: K Walsh; T Durkan, A Martin, A Brady; C Blundell, J Rogers, C Finch; K McDermot (1-0), F Leavy (0-1); L Brennan, F Claffey, E Morris; J Maher (0-1), S Dolan, K Hegarty (0-2). Subs: C Kelly for S Dolan (50), F Coyle for F Leavy (56), L Kiernan for K McDermott(59)
Referee: G McMahon
McMonagle back in the groove with Donegal
Yvonne McMonagle was one of the bloodlines of the Donegal side that won Division Two, the Ulster and All-Ireland Intermediate championships in 2010.
Since then, the Glenfin native has spent time in Australia lining out for the Cormac McAnallen’s in Sydney before returning last month to her native shores.
McMonagle announced her comeback in only her second outing back with a stunning 5-3 haul against Westmeath in Carndonagh earlier this month in a 6-13 to 0-8 win for Davy McLaughlin’s side.
Yesterday, she continued her fine form with a persona tally of 2-3 as Donegal overcame the same opponents 3-10 to 1-4 in the Tesco Ladies National Football League Division Two semi-finals in Clones.
“It was nice to come back as the girls had done most of the hard work,” McMonagle said yesterday. “I got a few games and it’s nice now to have a league final to look forward to.”
On the face of it, a 12-point win looks comfortable but Donegal had to feel their way into the match and now have a Division Two final this coming weekend to look forward to, with Armagh, who had an easier than expected 2-20 to 1-8 win over Cavan the opponents.
“It was a tough game as Westmeath had a blanket defence with a sweeper in front of them and it was tough to break down, especially for us in the full-forward line,” McMonagle added. “We had to work hard for anything we got. We got a few lucky goals to get us over the line.
“It can get crowded out so we had to work the ball out and around and we had to be patient. We got the scores and it was a tight game for a long time. We’re in the final now and have a tough game against Armagh. We saw a wee bit of their game against Armagh. They’re flying and have confidence so hopefully we can do it in the final now.”