Donegal gave a good account of themselves despite going down by eight points to reigning champions Monaghan, in the Ulster Ladies Senior Football semi-final in Donaghmore, Tyrone on Saturday night.
It certainly was a much closer contest than when the sides last met. On that occasion in their Division One League meeting at the beginning of March, Monaghan took the full points as they emerged 15 point winners on a 2-17 to 1-5 scoreline.
With that game and result very much in mind Donegal boss Hugh Molloy, packed his defence ala Jim McGuinness and the Donegal senior footballers a couple of years ago.
And while Monaghan were always going to win this tie, the packed Donegal rearguard made life very difficult for the champions who only pulled away in the closing ten minutes.
Monaghan led 1-6 to 0-3 at half-time after the sides had been level once in the opening six minutes and before Caoimhe Mohan found the Donegal net eight minutes into the game.
The goal opened up a three point advantage, 1-2 to 0-2, after Karen Guthrie and Amber Barrett had pointed for Donegal to cancel out early strikes from Catriona McConnell and Ellen McCarron.
And there was still only a goal in it with three minutes left in the half before Cora Courtney (2) and McConnell posted late points to send the Farney ladies in six points to the good at half-time.
McConnell and Mohan extended the Monaghan lead on the resumption before Rose Boyle, who did ten minutes in the sin-bin in the first half, kicked a massive point for Donegal’s first of the second half.
Monaghan had moved nine ahead by the three quarter mark before Donegal enjoyed a good spell with Geraldine McLaughlin – who cut a lonely figure up front all night – converted from close range and Aishling Cunningham netted the Donegal goal.
That was with nine minutes remaining and came after the Killybegs lass first-timed past Linda Martin who had got down well to deny McLaughlin, but failed to hold on to possession.
Cunningham’s strike reduced the margin to five points 1-10 to 1-5. But as they had done in the first half Monaghan pulled away again with four points without response.
Geraldine McLaughlin kicked the game’s last score with literally the last kick of the game.
Monaghan advance to the Ulster final while Donegal now go into the All-Ireland Qualifier draw and after Saturday night’s performance, Hugh Molloy and his team will look forward to that draw with some relish.
Donegal: Roisin McCafferty; Orlagh Carr, Katy Herron, Nicole McLaughlin; Rose Boyle, Terese McCafferty, Kinnesha McKinney; Shannon McGroddy, Karen Guthrie (0-1); Eilish Ward, Amber Barrett (0-2, 1f), Karen Feeney; Emer Gallagher, Geraldine McLaughlin (0-2, 1f), Aisling Cunningham (1-0). Subs: Deirdre Foley for Ward, Petra McCafferty for McKinney, Caroline Kelly for Carr, Catherine Boyle for Cunningham
Monaghan: Linda Martin; Anita Newell, Nicola Fahy, Christina Reilly; Laura McEnaney, Sharon Courtney, Aoife McAnespie; Grainne McNally, Eileen McKenna; Therese McNally, Caoimhe Mohan (1-03, 0-1f), Cathriona McConnell (0-4, 2f); Cora Courtney (0-3), Ellen McCarron (0-3), Ciara McAnespie (0-1). Subs: Eileen McElroy for McConnell, Niamh Kindlon for McCarron.