Geraldine McLaughlin . . . hit 2-2
Donegal's quest to claim their third win of the LIDL Ladies NFL Division 1 ended in disappointment as a sharper Dublin side came out on top by seven points in this Round 4 encounter on Sunday at Parnell Park.
A strong second half display helped the hosts to victory, in a game where Donegal only led for 90 seconds – Geraldine McLoughlin firing the opening point from a free, but Dublin score getter Sinead Aherne equalising soonafter, with the sides only level once more as Dublin were more effective on the scoreboard.
Mick Bohan's side raced to a 0-7 to 0-2 lead at the end of the opening quarter, with Aherne adding three more points, and Sarah McCaffrey, Carla Rowe and Lyndsay Davey contributing fine scores from play.
The lead could have been more, but for a fine block by Katie Herron on a Kate McKenna point shot, while at the opposite end Niamh Hegarty was through for a potential goal in the 14th minute, but opted for the safer option in slotting the ball between the posts.
Pressure continued to coime on the Donegal defence, but it was the Ulster side who cut through for the first goal of the hour – McLaughlin with a fine effort, showing great composure to slot home, after Hegarty dipped the ball inside in the 19th minute.
Lauren Magee pegged a point back for Dublin, but McLaughlin would register another goal – this tie from the penalty spot, after Paula McGroary was fouled by Leah Caffrey.
McLaughlin's 22nd minute goal levelled the tie at 2-2 to 0-8, but neither side produced a scores before the interval, with defences on top while both sides also had some misses.
Dublin made three changes at the break, and one of their newly introduced players Hannah O'Neill took the opening point after the restart.
This kick-started a spell where Dublin registered three unanswered scores, and it wasn't until McGroary popped the ball over the bar in the 38th minute that Donegal opened their second half account.
Two points seperated the teams at this stage, but Rowe cut through for a goal.
Hegarty and Karen Gutherie fired back-to-back points, but Dublin came good once more firing 1-5 without reply in an eight-minute spell, including a Davey goal, as they welcomed the return of Aherne from the sin-bin.
Donegal broke their scoring duck in perfect fashion with a 58th minute hegarty goal, with Eilish Ward following up with a point.
However, this came too late as Aherne and McLaughlin traded points in the closing stages, with Dublin holding out for a seven-point win.
This result, and Cork's win over Mayo, leaves Cork top of the Division, with Dublin in second place, Galway in third and Donegal mid-table in fourth.
With a three-week break for third level games, Naughton will be hoping all his players pull through unscatheded before their next league match – a home tie with sixth place Mayo on Sunday March 19th.
DUBLIN: Ciara Trant; Fiona Hudson, Olwen Carey, Leah Caffrey; Martha Byrne, Noelle Healy, Tarah O'Sullivan; Lauren Magee (0-2), Molly Lamb; Kate McKenna, Sarah McCaffrey (0-1), Carla Rowe (1-2); Rebecca McDonnell, Lyndsey Davey (1-4), Sinead Aherne (0-7, 5f). Subs: Sinead Finnegan for McKenna (HT); Hannah O'Neill (0-1) for McCaffrey (HT); Kate Fitzgibbon for T O'Sullivan (HT); Aoife Curran for Byrne (54); Olivia Leonard for Rowe (57); Laura McGinley for Fitzgibbon (61)
DONEGAL: Laura Gallagher; Theasa Doherty, Ciara Hegarty, Kate Keeney; Therese McClafferty, Nicole McLaughlin, Emer Gallagher; Katie Herron, Karen Gutherie (0-1); Grainie Houston, Niamh Hegarty (1-2), Eilish Ward (0-1); Roisin Friel, Geraldine McLaughlin (2-2, 1-0pen, 2f), Paula McGroary (0-1). Subs: Kniesha McKinney for McClafferty (43); Deirdre Foley for E Gallagher (54); Niamh Carr for Ward (61); Caroline Gallagher for Houston (61)
REFEREE: Colm McManus