Chad McSorley on the ball for MacCumhaills against Gaoth Dobhair Picture: Thomas Gallagher
Gaoth Dobhair, the double Donegal champions, returned to action and winning ways with a narrow win over Sean MacCumhaills in Ballybofey.
Sean MacCumhaills ……… 1-11
Gaoth Dobhair ……………...1-15
The champions, who looked a class apart for long periods in the first half, had it far from their own way in the second half against the newly promoted Sean MacCumhaills.
The champions played against the strong wind in the first half and held a four point half-time lead.
Odhrán MacNiallais hit five of their points, Neil McGee and Eamonn Collum posted two each and Naoise Ó Baoill were the Gaoth Dobhair scorers.
Gaoth Dobhair fielded a strong side for their season opener with 12 of the team that started against Corofin in the All-Ireland club semi-final. Kevin Cassidy, Odhrán McFadden Ferry and Dan McBride were the only omissions.
MacCumhaills, who played most of the game with 14 men following the third minute sending off of Rory Dunleavy on a straight red card. The wing-back received his marching orders for a challenge on Michael Carroll.
MacNiallais and Naoise Ó Baoill opened the scoring with two points for the visitors before Darren O’Leary raised the first of his five first half white flags.
The double champions reeled off points from Neil McGee, Eamonn Collum and MacNiallais to race into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead before Oisin Gallen fired over the locals’ second on 12 minutes.
It was score for score for the remainder of the half
with MacNiallais and O’Leary trading points to send Gaoth Dobhair in 0-10 to 0-6 at half-time.
O’Leary kicked the only two points of the third quarter to cut the Gaoth Dobhair lead to two, 0-10 to 0-8 as Gaoth Dobhair struggled to regain their opening half momentum.
The champions had to wait until the 47th minute for their opening point of the second period. Once again the trusty left boot of MacNiallais restoring his side’s advanage back out to three.
But the fat was in the fire shortly after when O’Leary got on the end of a good move to fist a Stephen Mulligan cross to the back of the Gaoth Dobhair net.
With Gaoth Dobhair now down to 14 after Cian Mulligan was shown a straight red card for a clash with Pauric Patton and the sides level at 0-11 to 1-8 the momentum was with the promoted MacCumhaills.
But Peter McGee got on the end of a sweeping move from the kickout to restore the Gaoth Dobhair lead.
And when MacNiallais and Dáire Ó Baoill combined to set up Gavin McBride for the game’s second goal, the margin was back out to four again with eight minutes on the clock.
Oisin Gallen and Conor McCafferty traded points and thanks to strikes from O’Leary and Jamie Keegan the gap was reduced to two again in frenetic closing exchanges.
MacCumhaills had the ball in the net and Marty O’Reilly was denied from point blank by Christoper Sweeney before Dáire Ó Baoill kicked the insurance point deep in injury time.
SEAN MACCUMHAILLS: Eoin Gallen; Adam Lynch, Martin Gallagher, Conor Griffin, Chris Gallen, Gary Dunnion, Rory Dunleavy; Pauric Patton, Gavin Gallagher; Chad McSorley, Stephen O'Reilly, Gary Wilson; Marty O'Reilly, Darren O'Leary (1-8,6f), Oisin Gallen (0-2). Subs: Aaron Gilhooley for A Lynch h/t; Stephen Mulligan for C McSorley 39; Jamie Keegan (0-1) for Gavin Gallagher 54; Rory Mulligan for G Wilson 57
GAOTH DOBHAIR: Christopher Sweeney; Shane Ferry, Neil McGee (0-2),Christopher McFadden; Niall Friel, Eamon McGee, Daire O’Baoill (0-1); Peter McGee (0-1), Michael Carroll(0-1); Cian Mulligan,James O’ Baoill, Naoise O’Baoill (0-1); Odhrán MacNiallais (0-6,5f), Gavin McBride, Eamonn Collum (0-2,2f). Subs; Kevin Cassidy for N O’Baoill 39; Conor McCafferty (0-1) for Peter McGee, Shaun Doherty for G McBride both 56.