If ever there was a mis-match then Donegal’s annihilation of the Down Ladies in Brewster Park on Saturday surely qualified.
Down may be All-Ireland Intermediate champions, but the loss of a number of players left them way out of their depth against Donegal.
Donegal were 2-4 to no score ahead after 4 minutes and 50 seconds and by half-time the score was Donegal 7-17 to Down’s 0-3.
Yvonne McMonagle accounted for 4-2 of that total while Geraldine McLaughlin hit 1-7. There were some brilliant passages of attacking play, but in truth the Down defence were no match for this Donegal team.
“It was too easy. That’s not championship football there and I sort of despair a wee bit for Down. They won the Intermediate All-Ireland last year and a number of players walked away and it wasn’t fair to those young girls that came in,” was the reaction of the Donegal manager, Davy McLaughlin.
“I think if that’s what’s going to happen then the Ulster Council need to find a way of seeding teams. That was of no use to us and certainly of no benefit to Down.”
The second half continued in the same vein with McMonagle pointing after 24 seconds followed by Niamh Hegarty (55 secs) and Carol Breslin (1 min30). It became shooting practice for McMonagle and McLaughlin, both getting a goal and missing a few others while McLaughlin added seven points.
One of the biggest cheers came when Treasa Doherty strode forward from corner-back to hit a point and celebrate in style.
The lone Down point didn’t come until the 56th minute from Tara McDade.
Donegal manager Davy McLaughlin was able to take off his four U-21 players ahead of their All-Ireland final the next day, but it was a game that he felt that was of little use.
“It was good to get them off and give them a bit of a rest,” said McLaughlin.
“We can only play and beat what’s in front of us but the game was literally gone after five minutes. It was just kicking practice.
“It was good to get the game. Did we learn anything? Absolutely not. We had talked about releasing the girls this week because they have championship coming up next Sunday, but we really need to get a game between now and the semi-final against Tyrone in two weeks’ time,” said McLaughlin.
When the sides met in the league Down also scored four points while Donegal only managed 6-16 that day.
For centre half-back Kate Keaney, it was good to be back in the Donegal team after a lengthy lay-off due to concussion.
“The conditions were tough and we had built a lot in the league. Down had lost a lot of players similar to us in 2010/2011. They are very much a young team and regrouping. I suppose we were well up for it today to redeem ourselves after our league final performance,” said Keaney.
“We are going to have to improve twice as much if we are going to beat Tyrone the next day. It was a good performance and good to get the win and look forward to the next day.
“On a personal note it was good. It was the first game I started all year after a bad injury so I’m hoping for a long summer and stay injury free. There is great competition for places and the U-21s have the All-Ireland final tomorrow. We will just work hard in training.
“Tyrone and Cavan went to extra-time and that will really benefit Tyrone the next day. We are just happy to be in the semi-final,” said Keaney.
Donegal: Roisin McCafferty; Treasa Doherty (0-1), Emer Gallagher, Nicole McLaughlin; Deirdre Foley, Kate Keaney, Ciara Hegarty; Shannon McGroddy (0-1), Katy Herron; Yvonne McMonagle (6-5), Niamh Hegarty (0-2), Bridin Gallagher (0-1); Geraldine McLaughlin (2-14,2f), Amber Barrett (1-1), Aoife McDonnell (1-6). Subs., Terese McCafferty for McGroddy 17; Sarah Patton for E Gallagher, Carol Breslin (0-3) for Nicole McLaughlin, both 24; Niamh McLaughlin (0-1) for E Gallagher 27; Laura Gallagher for N Hegarty 47
Down: Danielle McCourt; Aimee Greene, Laura Mason, Kerry McGowan; Aidair Trainor, Sinead Brannigan, Grainne Hughes; Kate McKay, Amy Marks; Erin McDowell, Grainne McClean (0-2,1f), Siobhan McCann; Anna Marie Magee (0-1,f), Laoise Duffy, Brea McKee. Subs., Emma Savage for McGowan 38; Tara McDaid (0-1) for McKee 44; Elaine Madine for McCourt 47; Sarah Carville for McKay 52.
Referee: Conor Dourneen (Cavan)