Aaron Doherty fires over one of his four points for Donegal
Donegal Minors stepped it up in the second half against Antrim this afternoon in O’Donnell Park, to come from eight down to win by two points and register their first win in the league.
Donegal drew with Fermanagh and lost to Tyrone and Derry before this afternoon’s tie. And they looked in bother as they trailed Antrim, who are also their first round championship opponents, by six points, 2-4 to 1-1, at half-time
Oisin Gallen had scored the goal from the penalty spot and also converted an injury time free at the end of the half.
Antrim played with the wind in the first period and after a slow start hit the game’s first four scores to lead 0-4 to 0-0 by the end of the first quarter.
Corner forward Dermot McErlaine, who proved a handful; Eoin Nagle and Jack Lenehan hit the points for the Saffrons, who mixed the short hand passing game with the long ball to great effect.
While Gallen’s goal on 18 minutes, after Keelan McGroddy was fouled, reduced the margin to one, Antrim were back in the driving seat soon afterwards.
Tiernan McAteer punished Sean Taylor when he failed to hold a long range shot, for Antrim’s first goal.
That was on 24 minutes and opened up a four point Antrim advantage once more.
And two minutes later the visitors were seven up when McErlaine drilled Sean Taylor’s rebounded penalty save to the net.
Taylor dived full stretch to save well from Malachi Doherty’s spot kick. That was Doherty’s second attempt after his first went tamely wide. But the referee ordered the spot kick to be retaken.
Leading 2-4 to 1-1 at half-time, Antrim kicked the first two points of the second half to open up a 2-6 to 1-1 lead, within four minutes of the restart.
Aaron Doherty, who had a fine game in the second period, kicked the first of his four points to get the Donegal revival underway.
And with Colin McFadden, Lanty Molloy and Shay Doherty introduced from the bench, Donegal began to get a hold around the middle.
Gallen came deep to land a massive long range effort before Keelan McGroddy palmed to the Antrim net for Donegal’s second goal.
The margin now back to three and with loads of time on the clock the scores began flow.
Shay Doherty, Brian O’Donnell and Ryan McMahon hit points as Donegal drew level at 2-6 each by the 46th minute.
And with the traffic all one way at this stage and points from Doherty, Gallen, and Lanty Molloy, Donegal had moved into a 2-11 to 2-7 lead, with only a couple of minutes left on the clock.
Antrim, with a late Cormac Scott goal, threatened a snatch and grab raid. But Donegal regrouped and Gallen landed two late clinkers for a deserved if somewhat remarkable win.
DONEGAL: Sean Taylor; Michael McGroary, Aaron Deeney, Karl McGlynn; Ryan McMahon (0-1), Luke Gavigan, Paul Murphy; Ronan Docherty, Conor O'Donnell; Niall Hannigan, Paddy Dolan, Aaron Doherty (0-4,1f); Brian O'Donnell (0-1), Oisin Gallen (1-5, 1-0 pen, 1f, 1’45’), Keelin McGroddy (1-0).
Subs: Colin McFadden for R Docherty, Lanty Molloy (0-1) for P Dolan, Shay Doherty (0-1) for Niall Hannigan, all on 40; Fionn Gallagher for C O’Donnell 60.
ANTRIM; Michael Byrne; Marcus Donnelly, John Toner, Aidan Mulholland; Malachi Doherty, Jack Lenehan (0-1), John McCafferty; Ethan Gibson, Joe Maybin; Eoin Nagle (0-2), Ronan Kelly(0-2), James Gribben (0-1); Tiernan McAteer(1-0) , Seanchan Duffin, Dermot McErlaine (1-2).
Subs: Deaghlan Smith for Marcus Donnelly, 43; Kealan McCann forJoe Maybin; Declan Smyth for J McCafferty, 53; Cormac Scott (1-0) for S Duffin 54, Ronan Fegan for J Gribben 58.
REFEREE: Anthony Marren (Monaghan)