Impressive Donegal get through UCL challenge

Oscar Traynor Cup

Impressive Donegal get through UCL challenge

They didn't make things easy for themselves, but the Donegal League did just enough to get the better of the United Churches League at The Moss on Sunday.

Donegal League 3

United Churches League 2

The victory means Brian Dorrian's side are into the last eight of the Oscar Traynor Cup. They now have another home tie to look forward to, this time against the North East Counties League.

And on this display, the Donegal League can rightly feel confident of going even further in this competition.

They played well over the 90 minutes and were deserving winners. The only downside and worry for the management team, were the two UCL goals, both of which could have been avoided.

The first came from an early set-piece with the ball headed into the net by the totally unmarked, Ger Barry.

Then midway through the second half, and leading 3-1, the Donegal League allowed their opponents right back into the tie when Ryan Gildea's challenge inside the area led to a needless penalty. Barry kept his nerve from the spot and it made for a nervy closing period for Donegal.

But those blemishes aside, this was an all-round impressive display from the Donegal League and in Christopher Malseed, they had a player who was right on his game.

The former Harps man scored one of his team's goals, and worked ever so hard at centre midfield, winning possession and snuffing out the UCL threat on a number of occasions.

Donegal were also well served by Gary Merritt who had another fine game in attack while Kyle Black also deserves a mention for a hard-working display up front. He scored one and also provided the cross for Malseed to score.

The Dublin side ran the Inishowen League close at this stage of the competition last year and they set their stall out early in this contest with the game's opening goal after only two minutes.

Donegal conceded a free kick close to the right touchline and when it was delivered by Luke Morrissey, Ger Barry got free to head past Christopher Sweeney.

It was a disastrous start for Donegal, but to their credit, they didn't panic. Playing into a strong breeze, they played some neat football in the early stages and got back on level terms on 18 minutes.

Kyle Black chased down a ball with the keeper, David Frewan, and after winning that race outside the box, Black's delivery into the area was headed in by Malseed.

Then just after the half hour mark, Donegal went into the lead, this time Black the scorer.

Once again, the goal came from a set-piece - Merritt's delivery was only half punched clear by Frewan and Black's first time return found the net.

Right at the start of the second half, the Donegal League got their third - and again, it came from a free kick. With the wind at his back, Ryan Gildea delivered a free into the area from half way - the ball skidding off the head of a defender and into the net.

The goal, fortuitous as it was, left Donegal in a very strong position and if anything, they looked the more likely to score again.

But after making a couple of changes, UCL were handed a way back into the contest when Gildea brought down substitute Darren King inside the area and Barry scored from the spot.

UCL ended the game with ten men after midfielder Patrick Shorthall was shown a second yellow card. Despite their best efforts, they couldn't muster an equaliser and Donegal held out for a fine win.

Donegal League: Christopher Sweeney, Jamie Boyle, Benny Bonner, Ryan Gildea, Ryan Shields (Paul Sweeney 72), Philip Whyte (Glen Gallagher 80), Eoin Sheridan, Chris Malseed, Kyle Black (Joey Cullen 75), Gary Merritt, Damien Crossan.

UCL: Frewon, Morrissey (Cullen 57), Dunne, McDonnell, Barry, O'Hara (Kavanagh 85), Griffiths, Shorthall, McLaughlin (Darren King 55), Lynch, Lougheed.

Referee: Joe McHugh.

Assistants: Marty Quinn, Mick Lagan.