The Donegal Masters GAA team were back in action on Friday night and it was a successful comeback with a big victory over Antrim in their first game in their section.
Donegal . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-13
Antrim . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 0-7
The match was played in Killyclogher with Kilcar’s John McNulty, assisted by Dara Dolan (Bundoran) in charge. Donegal had a big squad at their disposal, this despite the absence of a few others including Adrian Sweeney (Dungloe) and Michael ‘Sticky’ Ward (Aodh Ruadh). All of the panel saw action as the Masters competition allows for rolling substitutions.
Apart from Antrim, Donegal also have Leitrim up next with Cavan, Monaghan and Tyrone also in their six team section.
Donegal dominated the play in the first half and restricted Antrim to a single score which came on the cusp of half time. Martin Gillespie’s repertoire of kick outs were accurate throughout and were won by David McShane and Charlie Bonner who controlled the midfield or when necessary to the half-backs. Antrim had the first chance to register a score in the game when they won a free after six minutes but their centre forward sent the ball wide.
The opening phase of the game involved both teams sussing each other out and attempting to apply their game plans. Four Masters’ man Benny Cassidy hit the first score of the game and the first of many to his personal tally of the evening after 8 minutes and followed up with a free then soon after. Antrim tried to respond but another free and attempt went wide.
Donegal soon had the ball in the back of the net after Sean Boyce (formerly Cloughaneely but now MacCumhaill’s) found Benny Cassidy who offloaded to Gerard McGrenra of Glenswilly but the goal was ruled out by the referee.
At the 18 minute mark of the first half a Sean oyce effort in hung in the air and eventually dropped into the arms of Gerard McGrenra who confidently slotted past the Antrim goalkeeper and Donegal had their goal and a 5 point lead. A minute later Donegal had their second goal of the game when goal scorer McGrenra turned provider for Eddie Gallagher and the lead was now 8 points.
Exquisite play by Seán Mac Cumhaill’s duo Emmet McCormack and Sean Boyce saw the latter pointing over. McGrenra notched over another point on 22 minutes when his long range effort just about cleared the crossbar and Boyce added his second point of the game directly after it. Donegal looked to have another score on the board when John Anthony McMullan’s shot looked to be clean over but veered left. Antrim hit their first score of the half on 29 minutes.
Half time score: Donegal 2-5; Antrim 0-1
The second half had a different story to tell than the first half with a much rejuvenated Antrim roaring out of the blocks for the second half and improving on their scoring tally than the first. Gerard McGrenra added his second point of the game 5 minutes in and James McBride was called into action to dive and block an attempt at goal. Donegal then went 11 minutes without recording a score with Antrim hitting 4 points in this period.
Sean Boyce broke the scoring deadlock on 16 minutes and the whole team soon upped the level of performance enhanced by the use of a strong bench. Martin Gillespie of Naomh Columba pulled off an excellent save to deny Antrim the chance of a goal and the introduced Johnny McGinty added his own point when he connected sweetly with a bouncing ball to guide the ball over.
Benny Cassidy added three more points with Sean Boyce contributing with a point again from play. Donegal went on to complete the scoring with 5 minutes to go after a Johnny McGinty diagonal ball found Paul Gallagher of Naomh Muire who slotted over. Antrim forced a goal mouth scramble before full time but the defence were on hand to deny any threats.
Donegal Masters: Martin Gillespie, Charlie Doherty, Charlie Boyle, Ross Brady, James McBride, Kevin McGettigan, Michael McShane, David McShane, Charlie Bonner, John Anthony McMullan, Gerard McGrenra (1-2), Eddie Gallagher (1-0), Benny Cassidy (0-5), Sean Boyce (0-4), Emmet McCormack
Val Murray, Kerry Ryan, Dan Branley, Paul Gallagher (0-1), Martin McShane, Johnny McGinty (0-1), Stephen Walls, Charlie Gallagher, Joe Boyle, Shane McClafferty, Adrian McGettigan, Paul McGlynn.