Early goals ease Donegal to Nicky Rackard semi-final

Early goals ease Donegal to Nicky Rackard semi-final
Donegal had little trouble advancing to the Nicky Rackard Cup semi finals when they outplayed and outclassed Louth on Saturday afternoon.

Donegal had little trouble advancing to the Nicky Rackard Cup semi finals when they outplayed and outclassed Louth on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams enjoyed big victories in the first round of the qualifiers with Donegal beating Monaghan by 20 and Louth demolishing Sligo by 24.

Given the quality of the Louth performance in that game, there was a real sense of optimism that an upset was on the cards, this was heightened further when Louth were handed a home tie.

Goals win games and Donegal had two on the board in the opening four minutes in a disastrous start for the home side.

The match was just 20 seconds old when midfielder Danny Cullen picked up the sliothar, a weak effort from the middle bounced in front of Louth full back Johnny Carter. The full back attempted to gain control but missed, the movement deceived goalkeeper Ruairi Reilly and the ball bounced into the net for a very soft goal.

Reilly was picking the ball out of his net 2 minutes later when Cullen and Ciaran Matthewson combined to set up Paddy Hannigan to score.

The impressive Matthewson added a point from the puck out to give Donegal a 2-1 to no score lead after 5 minutes.

Louth finally got on the scoresheet in the 14th minute with a Davy Mahony goal. That was quickly followed up by a Paddy Lynch point leaving Louth trailing by 4.

Murphy and Matthewson traded pointed frees before Donegal hit five-in-a-row in the final 8 minutes of the first half, 4 of those points coming from Ciaran Matthewson (2 frees) and a fine effort from wing forward Sean McVeigh along the left sideline. Murphy ended the half with a stoppage time free to leave the half time score at 2-8 to 1-3.

The loss of midfielder Shane Callan at half time was a real blow to Louth. They did start the new half with a point from a Murphy free although a minute later Donegal scored their third goal.

Again the Louth defence was sliced apart as the opposition midfield and half forwards powered through, the ball found its way to wing forward Sean McVeigh who sent a strong shot, low and hard into the far corner.

Murphy and Donegal midfielder Danny Cullen traded 2 points each before Donegal wrapped up the victory in the 52nd minute when the outstanding Ciaran Matthewson scored Donegal’s fourth goal.

Matthewson and McVeigh added two further points, with McVeighs effort one of the scores of the match as he sent an effortless shot, over his right shoulder from a tight angle.

In the final 10 minutes of the match, the Louth players tried valiantly and were unlucky to concede a fifth in the 64th minute when McVeigh scored after being set up by Matthewson.

Donegal substitute, Eugene Organ wrapped up the scoring with a point to leave the final score at 5-14 to 1-9.

Louth: R. Reilly; P.McCormack, J.Carter, A.McCrave; C.Kerrigan, R.Byrne, C.Ryan; J.Condon, S.Callan; D.O’Hanrahan, N.Stanley, D.Kettle; D.Mahony (1-0), D.Murphy (0-8, 7f), P. Lynch (0-1). Subs: A.Mackin for S.Callan, G.Rellis for D.O’Hanrahan, S. Fennell for C.Kerrigan

Donegal: P.Burns; M.McGrath, J.McGee, S.Gallen; J.Donnelly, J.Boyle, C.McDermott; P.Sheridan, D.Cullen (1-2); R.McDermott, E.McDermott, S.McVeigh (2-3); K.Campbell (0-1), P.Hannigan (1-0), C.Matthewson (1-7, 4f). Sub: E. Organ (0-1).