Donegal Hurling manager, Ardal McDermott, during the Donegal V Louth Allianz League match at O'Donnell Park
Donegal returned to Division 3 A of the Allianz National Hurling League with a bang and a thirteen point win over Louth in O’Donnell Park this afternoon.
After two seasons in the higher Division 2B of the league, Donegal were relegated last season without winning a game.
With the home team without a number of first choice players who stepped away for a variety of reasons, Donegal followers who bared the chilling wind in O’Donnell Park did not know what to expect of Ardal McDermott’s new looks side.
But they need not have worried as new recruits from outside the county, Declan Coulter, Armagh, and Davin Flynn, Tipperar, more than made up for the scoring prowess of the absent Sean McVeigh, Christopher McDermott and Paddy Hannigan.
Former Armagh All -Star Coulter ended the game with five points and former Tipperary iontermediate player Flynn posted four points. Flynn, from Roscrea, also made the run and carved the opening for the first of the Donegal goals scored by Kevin Campbell.
New kids on the block, Cathal Doherty,from Buncrana and Ritchie Kee, Setanta, also made their mark on their debuts with Doherty slamming home Donegal’s first goal.
Enda McDermott returned from an injury-ravaged season and cruciate surgery to post two fine points.
And Lee Henderson, who ended the game with a tally of 0-8, seven of them from frees, lost none of his touch from placed balls as he split the posts from varying distances and angles.
Solid in defence
Donegal were also solid in defence where Jamsie Donnelly, though turned for the Louth goal along, with Padraig Doherty and Dara Grant were tenacious in the tackle and gave very little away.
Donegal tore into Louth from the off. And thanks to first half goals from Cathal Doherty on six minutes and Kevin Campbell on 23 minutes, they led 2-6 to 0-11 at half-time.
Doherty whipped first time to the Louth net when the ball broke about 20 metres out from the posts.
And Campbell polished off a good move with a rocket to the roof of Shane Nolan’s net after a great run down the middle of the Armagh defence by Flynn.
Kee, Henderson (3) and Coulter (2) scored the opening half Donegal points, in a tit for tat opening 35 minutes.
Liam Dwan with five points and Diarmuid Murphy with four carried the big scoring threat for Louth in the opening half.
The visitors took the lead for a short time at the start of the second when Connolly struck for their goal eight minutes into the new half.
The goal propelled them into a one point, 1-11 to 2-7 lead.
And they made a game of it for the next ten minutes as they twice edged back in front after Donegal had drawn level.
But Murphy’s point that tied up the game at the start of the fourth quarter on 2-10 to 1-13 heralded the start of a Donegal onslaught that saw the locals reel off seven unanswered points, in nine minutes to take a commanding 2-17 to 1-13 lead.
And Donegal won pulling up with five points in the closing stages to run out convincing winners.
DONEGAL: Paul Burns; Dara Grant, Jamsie Donnelly, Padraig Doherty; Joe Boyle, Jack O’Loughlin, Niall Cleary; Danny Cullen (0-2), Richie Kee (0-1) Enda McDermott (0-2), Davin Flynn (0-4), Lee Henderson (0-8,7 f), Cathal Doherty (1-0), Kevin Campbell (1-1),Declan Coulter (0-5). Subs; Colm Melaugh for E McDermott, 54; Aidan Stokes for D Grant, 59; Paul Nelson for C Doherty, Ciaran Rami for D Flynn, both 71.
LOUTH: Shane Nolan; Brian Minogue, Roger Maher, Ricky McKeown; David Stephenson, Paddy McCormack, Donal Ryan; Andrew McCrave, Shane Callan; Gavin Kerrigan, Liam Dwan (0-5,4f), Paddy Lynch; Gerard Smyth (0-1), Seaghan Connelly (1-0), Diarmuid Murphy (0-6,4F). Subs; Darren Hanrahan (0-1) for G Kerrigan, 29; Stephen Kettle for G Smyth. 47; Darren O’Donnell P Lynch, 67.
REFEREE; Aidan Ferguson (Fermanagh).