Donegal Town came out on top against neighbours Letterkenny RFC at the Holmes on Saturday afternoon.
Donegal Town 15
Donegal were first to register on the scoreboard when their captain, Peter Cannon, slotted over a penalty to give them a 3-0 lead after 10 minutes. This, paradoxically, seemed to give Letterkenny more impetus.
They got a penalty score through Peoples and became more aggressive while the home side seemed to step back and drop down a gear. Despite holding the upper hand they never seemed like piercing the Donegal defence until one of those opportunist moments that sport always throws up came the way of Letterkenny. Donegal were deep into their opponents’ territory when Brian McGinley intercepted a pass from outhalf,
Cannon, which put him in the clear with a simple run in under the posts. The try duly converted turned the game on its head and now it was Letterkenny who led 10-3.
A shell-shocked Donegal eventually started to wake up and went on to win a penalty just before halftime. It was a pressure kick as the home side needed a score to settle the nerves. Cannon duly supplied the remedy when he converted and so the margin was now four points. From then on until halftime Letterkenny tried to pressure Donegal’s backline with some well placed kicks into their ‘22’ but the homeside’s back three, of Vance, Bushell and Boyle, showed excellent composure under the high ball. Boyle’s excellent kicking under pressure was to help win him player of the match. Half-time Donegal 6 Letterkenny 10.
Whatever coaches Prendiville and Barrett said to their team at the break certainly had the right effect because it was a different Donegal 15 who took to the field in the second half. Aggression and intensity levels rose and despite going down to 14 men following the sin binning of one of their key forwards, Shaun Mahon, Donegal gradually took control of the game.
Their pack dominated scrums, lineouts and loose play. They also dominated territory and always looked likely to go over for a try. No try however was forthcoming, despite great breaks which came from all over the field as the aggression of the Brogan and Gillespie brothers, along with that of McGill,
Mulhern , Mahon and Gildea paid off. Their relentless pressure yielded four penalties three of which Cannon converted to leave his team 15-10 in front at the final whistle. Next up is the Cup for Donegal and a home game against Derry.
While Letterkenny will be hoping to re-ignite their recent mini revival. They have certainly improved hugely on their 44-0 drubbing by Donegal in the Gordon West Cup in September and will be hoping to return to winning ways soon.