Donegal are going to have to win their last game against Mayo, if they are to qualify for the final of the North West U-21 Cup.
Fermanagh . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-4
Donegal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-6
That is the reality following Saturday’s one point surprise defeat to Fermanagh in Ballyshannon, What was an experimental Donegal have only themselves to blame as they played with no cohesion and their ball handling and distribution both off the hand and foot was way off the mark.
Despite being experiential in nature for the second week in-a-row, they led at half-time 0-3 to 0-2. That was after playing against the slop and not that well. There was an expectation that Declan Bonner’s young charges would kick on in the second half.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Fermanagh, who had an edge in the physical stakes, seemed to want to win the the game a little more and had imposing figures in Shane O’Hara at full-back; Cian McManus at centre half-back; Garvan Jones at midfield and Eoin McManus and Ciaran Corrigan in the half-forward line.
Cian Mulligan ended up Donegal’s top scorer with a goal and two points and was, by a good stretc,h Donegal’s best player, though he did take a little too much out of the ball at times.
Nevertheless, he turned in a good performance as he foraged far and wide from his full-forward berth to sweep up breaking ball around the middle of the park.
His goal after a good and incisive move involving Danny Monagle and Adam Neely, was off the top shelf as he cooly slotted underneath Jack Kelly coming in from the left hand side and a tight angle.
Neely had a good first half and was Donegal’s main threat in the first half and was fouled for the two frees he converted to give his side the 0-3 to 0-2 half-time lead. Mulligan kicked the other Donegal first half point.. Leo McHugh started well in midfield, but was not as near effective in the second period while John McDyre and Bruce Waldron has steady games throughout.
Conor Doherty and John Campbell did add a little bit more to the attack on their introduction and seemed to have given their side the extra spark as they came from 1-3 to 0-3 down at the end of the third quarter to lead 1-6 to 1-3 into the closing ten minutes.
Mulligan, Campbell and Doherty stroked over before Mulligan pounced for the goal and a three point advantage.
Fermanagh had hit the first first two scores of the first half, a point from McManus and a goal from the penalty spot by McManus after Gavin Corrigan - one of Fermanagh’s best players - was fouled.
Sean Keenan made it a two point game before he intercepted a Danny Monagle pass back towards his own goal to blast past Shane Graham for Fermanagh’s second and clinching goal and a one point lead.
Donegal were unable to unravel that lead in the closing minutes and Fermanagh held on for the win and the two points to get their North West Cup ambitions back on track after losing at home to Mayo last week.
Donegal: Shane Graham; Jack Quinn, Bruce Waldron, Colm Kelly; Christian Bonner, Niall Friel, John McDyre; Leo McHugh, Niall Harley; Darren Curran, Callum Gallagher, Daniel Gallagher; Adam Neely (0-2,2f), Cian Mulligan (1-2), Hugh ‘Yank’ Boyle. Subs: Danny Monagle for C Bonner (9, inj), Conor Doherty (0-1,f) for H Boyle, Michael Miller for C Kelly, Mark Coyle for D Curran (all h/t); John Campbell (0-1) for C Gallagher (38); Jason Doherty for J Quinn (41); Conor O’Donnell for N Harley (48); Andrew McClean for Niall Friel (52, black card).
Fermanagh: Jack Kelly; Conor Carney, Shane O’Hara, Michael Jordan; David Teague, Cian McManus, Lee Jones; Garvan Jones (0-1), Daniel McCarville; Conor Watson, Eoin McManus (1-2, 1-0 pen,1f), Ciaran Corrigan; Shane Rooney, Conor McCauley, Luke Ryder. Subs: Thomas O’Hara for L Jones (41); Sean Keenan (1-1,f) for Ryder (47); Jason Flanagan for McCarville and Ryan Kelly for Rooney (49).
Referee: John Gilmartin (Sligo)