The Donegal Junior League’s Oscar Traynor ambitions came to a halt in Ray McSharry Park, Sligo on Sunday afternoon.
The Yeats County town is still cheerfully decorated in the red and white colours of Sligo Rovers after their recent FAI Cup victory.
Those colours assumed a dual purpose on Sunday evening as the Sligo / Leitrim League, who play in similar attire, progressed to the next round of this season’s competition at the expense of their north-west rivals.
Sligo / Leitrim started brightly as Donegal took time to find their rhythm. After only two minutes Mark Mc Conigley had to be alert when a fiercely struck corner kick fizzed across his six yard line. But the custodian, who would go on to produce countless fine saves, dealt well with the threat and fisted the ball confidently away to safety,
On five minutes Ryan Carlin won a free kick for Donegal wide on the right. Team captain Michael Doherty floated the ball across the area. Ryan Shields rose well at the back post but Martin Ward in the home net managed to get a touch to divert the ball away from the Kilmacrennan man’s head. Mc Conigley again thwarted the hosts when he got down well to save a Keith Nibbs shot from the edge of the box. Sligo / Leitrim looked dangerous going forward but they failed to find the final ball and most of their attacks broke down outside the Donegal penalty area. For their part Donegal were playing well. Ryan Carlin and Oisin Mc Menamin looked to have the wherewithal to unlock the home rearguard. Mc Menamin made Ward earn his corn when he fired a thunderous shot toward the Sligo / Leitrim net but the home keeper proved well up to the task.
With thirty eight minutes gone Donegal forced two corners in quick succession. Kevin Mc Brearty delivered the first which Ward fisted away for another a on the opposite side. Ryan Mc Fadden took the second corner and played it short to Michael Doherty. The team captain tried his luck from outside the box but his left footed effort went over the bar. As half time loomed Donegal were giving as good as they were getting. Carlin and Mc Menamin were both dangerous going forward. Kevin Mc Brearty, deployed on the left side of midfield, offered cover for left-back Brian Coll who had been so exposed in the match against Inishowen. The pair were very effective and allowed no Sligo / Leitrim advancement along their flank. Mc Conigley in goals and Ryan Mc Fadden as well as the central defensive pair of Shields and Mc Gee also showed well throughout the opening period.
Sligo /Leitrim came out for the second half with all guns blazing. This seemed to unsettle the Donegal side. Three times within the opening five minutes Mc Conigley had to produce top drawer saves to keep his side in the game. The pressure final told in the thirteenth minute when Sligo / Leitrim centre half Damien Shannon pounced on a loose ball in the Donegal box and he drove the ball to the net with venom.
Then came the match’s finest moment. Sligo / Leitrim playmaker, Christopher Kelly, swung a free kick into the Donegal box from wide on the left wing. Centre forward Gareth Reilly rose highest and with the deftest of flicks seemed to have doubled the home side’s advantage. Unbelievable Mc Conigley, who was moving in the opposite direction, stuck out his left leg to stop the ball at the expense of only a corner. No-one could believe he had prevented the goal at absolute point blank range.
The remainder of the game saw little between the sides. Sligo / Leitrim continued to create the better chances. This was a direct result of their better pass completion rate. Donegal had plenty of possession but all too often their manoeuvres faltered before they could present and real danger to the hosts. Mark Griffin replaced Kevin Mc Brearty and Dylan Ramsey came on for Ryan Carlin but the Cappry pair couldn’t impose themselves enough to have any bearing on the outcome. It finished at one nil to Sligo / Leitrim and Donegal will now have to start thinking about how they will approach next year’s competition as they again will attempt to progress from the Group stages on this prestigious competition.
Sligo / Leitrim: Martin Ward, Neill Mc Kenna, Aaron Murran, Gary Rooney, Damien Shannon, Colm Jinks, Liam Mc Tiernan, Ross Mc Loughlin, Gareth Reilly, Christopher Kelly, Kith Nibbs. Subs; Graham Lee, Jake Mc Crann, Niall Brennan, Kevin Buckley, Gary Finan, Damien Scanlon, James Carty.
Donegal: Mark Mc Conigley, Jamie Boyle, Brian Coll, Ryan Shields, David Mc Gee, Ryan Mc Fadden, Jonny Robb, Michael Doherty, Oisin Mc Menamin, Ryan Carlin, Kevin Mc Brearty. Subs; Dylan Ramsey, Mark Griffin, Warren Mc Ginley.
Brian Mc Cormick Sports Premier Division
Cranford United 3
Donegal Town 1
Cranford got their first win of the league campaign with a impressive performance against a big physical Donegal Town team.
The first half hour was a tight affair with few chances but in the 34th minute Donegal took the lead when centre forward Benny Byrne robbed the Cranford sweeper and cooly slotted home . Cranford should have levelled on the stroke of half time when Arthur Lynch headed down a corner but Shaun Mc Ilwaine somehow put the ball over the bar. Cranford started the 2nd half brightly and pushed Donegal back. After missing a couple of chances they got their reward when a Marty Mc Bride’s cross was driven home from the edge of box by Shaun Mc Ilwaine.
Five minutes later Cranford had the lead, a quick throw from Chris Duffy found Kyle Black who lifted the ball over the defender and volleyed home. Cranford continued to press hard and created loads of clear cut chances but the Donegal keeper kept them at bay. They were rewarded in the 75th minute when flying winger Marty McBride scored with the help of a slight deflection. Best for Cranford were Chris Duffy, Kyle Black and Marty Mc Bride. Team effort from Donegal Town.
Watson Hire Division One
Keadue Rovers 3
Gweedore United 2
Keadue Rovers claimed a vital victory to move themselves away from the relegation zone in Division One. It was the visitors who went ahead on three minutes, Ciaran McFadden striking superbly to the top corner. By the fifteenth minute Gweedore were in control when Ciaran McFadden scored a lovely solo goal taking the ball from the left, beating a few defenders and slotting to the net.
On nineteen minutes Keadue were back in it when Corey Gallagher punished a defensive mix-up and squeezed the ball over the line. Following a good spell from the home side David McCarron was brought down by the keeper but the resultant penalty was struck against the bar.
While Keadue continued to press for the remainder of the half Gweedore were keeping them at bay and the keeper wasn’t tested. Into the second half and Keadue started well. Gweedore had a good period of possession around the hour mark and were dangerous at some set pieces.
On sixty eight minutes Mark Boyle had a fine effort saved by the Gweedore keeper. On seventy minutes Keadue equalised when, following a clearance by the Gweedore defence, Keadue’s Paul Ferry hit a good effort from the edge of the box which took a slight deflection on its way to the net. At that stage it looked like a draw would be the likely outcome but following a ball out of the home defence Corey Gallagher took the ball round the last defender and keeper and slotted home for the winner.
Gweedore pressed hard for an equaliser but couldn’t breach the home defence. Overall a good victory for Keadue for whom Corey Gallagher, Ryan Rodgers and Mark Sweeney played well and for Gweedore United Ciaran Gillespie, Niall Friel and Frank McGee were impressive. Referee: Paddy Duffy
Eany Celtic 1
Bonagee United 2
Liam Mc Monagle got Bonagee off to the perfect start when he latched o to a loose ball in the Eany penalty box following a corner kick in the 5th minute.
Eany took a while to settle into the game and had several chances to equalise but found the visitors keeper in good form. The first half ended 0-1. The home side started the second half where they left off in the first and their efforts when rewarded when Barry Rose was upended in the box.
Rose put Eany level from the penalty spot. The game went end to end for the rest of the second half and the visitors scored their second goal in the 75th minute with a counterattack following an Eany breakaway.
Martin Hunter found space to have a shot from outside the box and put Bonagee ahead. Eany worked hard for the equaliser their performance deserved but time ran out.
CT Ball Division Two
Deele Harps 1
Ballybofey United 3
Deele played host to Ballybofey in what turned out to be a very open game. As early as the 2nd minute Gavin Gallagher dragged a shot wide from 20 yards. In the 15th minute the home side again went close when Conor Catterson headed straight at the keeper.
That miss proved costly as two minutes later Andy Duncan fired Ballybofey ahead after his initial shot was saved. Ballybofey were on top at this stage and forced a succession of corners and were turning the screw.
The away side increased their lead in the 32nd minute when a flick on by David White found Darragh Redmond and the striker beat two defenders before his deflected shot looped over Christy Roulstone in the Deele goal. From the restart a fine passing move involving Seamie and Gavin Gallagher found Conor Catterson and big man finished to the top corner from 20 yards.
The second half was very stop start, with a flurry of injuries forcing both sides into changes, but Ballybofey never give Deele a route back into the game. Just before the hour mark the visitors increased their lead with a rare goal from P.H. Bonner as he headed home a corner unchallenged.
The game petered out in the end on a frustrating day for Deele. John Gregg and David White were very impressive for Ballybofey. Referee: Patrick Martin
Letterbarrow Celtic 3
Dunlewy Celtic 2
Letterbarrow got off to a great start with James Mc Groary putting them a goal up after five minutes. The home side continued to dominate play until Dunlewy scored a header from a free kick, Lorcan Gallagher got the decisive touch.
Letterbarrow’s response was brave and they were rewarded when John Roper scored a simple goal after a great free kick from Steven Graham. Soon after John Roper shocked everyone when he lobbed the keeper with a cheeky but clever shot from 25 yards. The second half was less entertaining. Dunlewy scored their second with a Ciaran Mc Geady shot making the last 20 minutes very nerve wrecking for the home side. Great home win for Letterbarrow with Enda Kenny, James Mc Groary, Steven Graham, John Roper and Cathal Louther best for the home side.
Whitestrand United 6
Glenree United 1
On a cold and foggy afternoon Whitestrand United played Glenree United at Whitestrand Park. Whitestrand United have been a good run of form recently and were looking to continue this in what looked a difficult match against Glenree United.
Both teams battled for the upper hand in the early minutes of the match. Michael Sweeney went down in the box and the referee blew for a penalty. Up stepped Eddie Blake who calmly slotted the ball past the keeper.
Whitestrand kept up the pressure and Eddie Blake almost doubled his personal tally when he hit his shot narrowly wide from Michael Sweeny’s cross. Michael Sweeney broke through on two occasions and had good efforts on goal. Glenree went up the pitch and equalised when a defensive mix-up led to Damien Nelis scoring the equaliser.
Shortly after this the ball fell to Calvin McGowan who hit an excellent strike into the top corner. It was an excellent strike and a good response to Glenree’s equaliser. A good corner led to the third goal when Sean Gallagher headed into the top corner. A hectic ten minutes before half time saw Calvin help himself to his second goal.
Glenree were shell-shocked after the 10-minute blitz before half time and this showed in the second half when the tempo of the game dropped. The game had slowed down dramatically. Good play on the right hand side between Paul Lynch and Eddie Blake led to Blake crossing the ball and substitute James Gallagher helped himself to a goal. The final goal of a dominant display by Whitestrand came from Paul Lynch when the ball came to him in the box and he had all the time in the world to find the bottom corner.
Best for the Strand were Calvin McGowan and Eamon Martin. Referee: Victor Rainey