DUBLIN HAVE TOO MUCH FIREPOWER FOR DONEGAL

ALLIANZ NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL

DUBLIN HAVE TOO MUCH FIREPOWER FOR DONEGAL

Donegal slumped to their fifth straight defeat in a row when going down to Dublin in a one-sided Allianz League semi-final in Croke Park.

Dublin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-20

Donegal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0-13

Ten points separated the sides at the end and the ten point winning margin in no way flattered the reigning league and All-Ireland champions, who were much the better side.

Donegal only played in fits and starts and never really found their rhythm against a Dublin side without Diarmuid Connolly, Michael Darragh Macauley and Kevin McManamon.

Dublin showed two changes from the side named by Jim Gavin. Cian O’Sullivan replaced Eric Lowdnes at centre half-back and Paul Mannion replaced Diarmuid Connolly in the forward line

Donegal showed three changes from the team that started against Monaghan in Castleblayney seven days earlier.

Eamonn McGee, Karl Lacey and Kieran Gillespie came in for Anthony Thompson, Eoin McHugh and Hugh McFadden.

The double champions played into the Davin Stand End and with a strong wind in their backs they started well and with Donegal defending in numbers their patient build up yielded three points to Donegal’s one in the opening nine minutes.

Dean Rock, from a close in free; Ciaran Kilkenny and Paddy Andrews, both from play, scored for the All-Ireland champions.

In between the Dubs’ two opening strikes Patrick McBrearty, from a 20 metre free after Neil McGee charged up the field and was fouled, hit the Donegal point.

Dean Rock from play after Odhran MacNiallais had snuffed a glorious chance at the other end, made it 0-4 to 0-1 with 11 minutes on the clock.

Donegal were on the back foot at this stage although the defensive system was holding up reasonably and really made the reigning champions work for their scores.

And the small smattering of Donegal supporters in the crowd of 31,324 would have been reasonably happy when Michael Murphy converted twice in quick succession to reduce the gap to one, 0-4 to 0-3, at the end of the first quarter.

The first of those frees from 44 metres off the ground was a super score and the second was from much closer range, just outside the D.

Rory Kavanagh was winning a lot of ball around the middle and the McGees were making forays forward at every opportunity.

Dublin were moving the ball well and Dean Rock and man of the of the match Ciaran Kilkenny stretched the Dublin lead out to 0-6 to 0-3 before Martin McElhinney with the Donegal score of the day made it a two point game once more with a little over 12 minutes to the break.

McElhinney split the Hill 16 posts after good combination play from Kieran Gillespie, Ryan McHugh and Stephen McBrearty.

But Dublin pulled away again and Rock, Andrews and Kilkenny all hit the target to open up an 0-9 to 0-4 lead with five minutes to go to half-time.

Rory Kavanagh also denied Bernard Brogan what looked like a certain goal during this spell too before Murphy and McBrearty kept the Donegal side of the scoreboard ticking to reduce the margin to three again, 0-9 to 0-6. But before half-time Paul Mannion and James McCarthy popped over two late points to send Dublin in 0-11 to 0-6 up.

The signs were not good but with the wind in their backs in the second period there was some hope held out for a Donegal revival.

But the lights were dimmed on that aspiration inside the opening minutes of the second period when Bernard Brogan got on the end of a sweeping move to slide the ball under the advancing Mark Anthony McGinley for a the game’s only goal and a 1-11 to 0-6 Dublin lead.

Patrick McBrearty pulled a point back before Philly McMahon got forward to score a trademark point.

Dublin were easing through the gears at this stage as they attacked in waves and Mark Anthony McGinley saved well to deflect a Paul Mannon shot on the target out for a 45.

Rock converted the ‘45’ and John Small drove forward to make it 1-14 to 0-7 before McBrearty kicked Donegal’s second point of the half on 48 minutes.

Mannion added another Dublin point before Donegal hit three in-a-row two, McBrearty frees and one Murphy free.

But Dublin responded with three of their own on the bounce from Cormac Costelloe, Johnny Cooper and Eric Lowndes to make it 1-18 to 0-n1 on the hour mark.

Michael Murphy was uncharacteristically wide from 35 metres before in the closing minutes McBrearty and Brogan traded two points each as the clock ran down on a lopsided second half.

Donegal: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee; Eamon McGee, Martin O’Reilly, Ryan McHugh, Kieran Gillespie; Michael Murphy, Odhran MacNiallais; Karl Lacey, Leo McLoone, Frank McGlynn; Patrick McBrearty(0-8,5f), Michael Murphy (0-4,4f), Martin McElhinney (0-1) Subs: Stephen McBrearty for M O’Reilly (13); Caolan McGonagle for MacNiallais (50); Colm McFadden for Martin McElhinney (55); Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher for L McLoone (66); Christy Toye for R Kavanagh (67); Jack O’Brien for Gillespie (70).

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Philly McMahon (0-1), Johnny Cooper (0-1), David Byrne; John McCarthy (0-1), Cian O’Sullivan, John Small (0-1); Brian Fenton, Denis Bastick; Paul Flynn, Paddy Andrews (0-2), Ciaran Kilkenny (0-3); Dean Rock (0-5,3f,145), Paul Mannion (0-2) Bernard Brogan (1-2). Subs: Cormac Costelloe (0-1) for P Andrews (44); Eric Lowndes (0-1) for D Bastick (48); Shane B Carthy for P Flynn (50); Kevin O’Brien for J Cooper (61); Shane Carthy for C O’Sullivan (68).

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).