Donegal Ladies off to a winning start in National League

Armagh put to the sword in Convoy

Peter Campbell


Peter Campbell

Donegal Ladies off to a winning start in National League

Donegal's Graine Houston races onto a loose ball against Armagh

Donegal returned to the top flight in the Lidl Ladies National Football League with a big win over Armagh in Convoy.

Donegal 4-10

Armagh 0-11

New kid on the block Paula McGrory scored two of the goals and Roisin Friel and Amber Barrett scored the others as newly promoted Donegal blew seasoned Division One side Armagh away.

This was a top class performance against a strong Armagh outfit that included All-Stars Caroline O’Hanlon and Aimee Mackin.

It was an all round good performance with goalkeeper Laura Gallagher outstanding in goals and Emer Gallagher, Theresa Doherty Nicole McLaughlin and Kaneisha McKinney brilliant in defence.

Karen Guthrie ruled the roost at midfield with Katy Herron also putting in a solid hour.

And up front goalscorers Paula McGrory and Rosin Friel along with Niamh Hegarty and Geraldine McLaughlin (in the second half) were the players that caused the Armagh rearguard the most headaches.   

Donegal led 2-4 to 0-4 after getting off to a dream start.  They had 1-1 on the board inside a minute and a half. Karen Guthrie raced through from midfield to split the posts after ten seconds and a little over a minute later Paul McCrory got on the end of a good move to slip the ball past Caroline O’Hare in the Armagh goals.

Caroline O’Hanlon responded for Armagh but they were reeling again on eight minutes when McCrory struck for a second goal.

This time the Buncrana woman, in a carbon copy of the first, slid home after a piercing Donegal move that began with Grainne Houston who passed to Guthrie, who beat a number of defenders before finding the unmarked McGrory for 2-1 to 0-1 lead for Donegal.

Blaithin Mackin and Guthrie traded white flags for 2-2 to 0-2 after 11 minutes.

Guthrie’s point from a  close in free on 11 minutes was Donegal’s last point for close on 19 minutes as Armagh enjoyed a good spell.

But due to good defending by Emer Gallagher, Kelly Wilson, Nicole McLaughlin and Kaneisha McKinney, Armagh were restricted to points from Aimee Mackin and Fionnuala McKenna.

Laura Gallagher, who was brilliant in goals throughout, pulled off a super save from point blank range to deny Amy Mulholland before Guthrie and  Friel tagged on late points to send Donegal in six up at the break.

Geraldine McLaughlin fired over two quickfire points on the resumption for a 2-6 to 0-4 lead.

McGrory and Blaithin Mackin traded points before  Caroline and Aimee Mackin cut the Donegal lead to six points once more.

But the Armagh recovery was shortlived as Roisin Friel raced onto a cheeky flick on from Geraldine McLaughlin for goal number three and a 3-7 to 0-7 lead.

That was on 42 minutes and when Guthrie and McLaughlin added quick points the Donegal lead was out to 3-9 to 0-7, the league points were in the bag.

Armagh, to their credit, did not throw in the towel and had three late Mackin points after Laura Gallagher denied Mackin from the penalty spot.

In the closing minutes Amber Barrett added the cream with goal number four and Shannon McGroddy wrapped up the scoring with the last kick of the game.

Galway, away, are next up for Donegal.

DONEGAL: Laura Gallagher; Treasa Doherty, Emer  Gallagher, Kelly Wilson; Theresa McCafferty, Nicole McMcLaughlin, Kaneisha McKinney; Katy Herron, Karen Guthrie (0-4,2f); Grainne Houston, Niamh Hegarty, Eilish Ward; Roisin Friel (1-1), Geraldine McLaughlin (0-3), Paula McGrory (2-1). Subs, Amber Barrett (1-0), Ciara Hegarty, Caroline Gallagher, Blathnaid McLaughlin, Shannon McGruddy (0-1), Niamh McDaid and Kate Keaney.

ARMAGH: Caroline O’Hara; Caoimhe Morgan, Mairead Tennyson, Sharon Reel; Niamh Marley, Clodagh McCambridge,Megan Sheridan; Caroline Hanlon (0-2,1f), Blaithin Mackin (0-1); Aoife McCoy, Shauna Grey, Niamh Coleman; Aimee Mackin (0-6,2f), Lauren McConville, Fionnuala McKenna (0-2,2f).

Subs: Colleen McKenna, Catherine Marley and Sinead Finnegan.

REFEREE: Conor Dourneen (Cavan).