The Cavan/Monaghan League got revenge for their heavy defeat last year as they overcame the Donegal League at The Moss, Drumoghill.
Donegal Junior League . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Cavan / Monaghan League . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Both panels showed a number of changes in playing personnel from the 2015 encounter between the sides which took place on the Astro Pitch at Cootehill Harps in Cavan.
The lush pastures of ‘The Moss’ were well groomed for this season’s match giving the teams no cause for complaint about the surface.
From the start both sides got stuck in and showed a great determination to succeed. Donegal had slightly the upper hand for the opening 15 minutes when they created a few half chances. Richie Moore had a chance on 19minutes when he was put through by Chris Malseed but he could not apply the finish.
Mark Gallagher in the Donegal nets was called into action on 23 minutes when he did well to thwart Simon Douglas who tried his luck from distance.
Gavin Mc Glanaghey then had a good chance to open the scoring when he raced in at the back post to meet Micheal Doherty’s cross but unfortunately his effort didn’t find the target.
By now Monaghan/Cavan were starting to find their feet and Paul Sweeney had to clear the ball off the line when Mark Mulligan’s effort beat Gallagher. Unfortunately for Donegal Sweeney’s goal saving intervention only got as far as Enda Hessin who rifled to the net giving the visitors a first half lead. They doubled that advantage when Dean Connolly scored.
In the closing minutes of the half Ryan Shields made a goal-line clearance which was latched onto upfield by Doherty however the visiting keeper Jamie Smith did well to save his effort. Gary Merritt also had a shot go narrowly over the bar as the opening 45 minutes came to an end.
Donegal manager Brian Dorrian re-shuffled his pack at the interval. James Mailey, Philip Whyte and Kyle Black replaced Ryan Shields, Glen Gallagher and Gavin Mc Glanaghey respectively. The half-time team-talk seemed to hit home with the Donegal players and within four minutes of the restart they had pulled a goal back through substitute Kyle Black, the perfect start to the half, Black lobbing the visiting custodian after been send through by Gary Merritt.
Whyte was making a difference in the middle and Mailey cleared off his goal-line on one occasion when Monaghan/Cavan did get through in a half dominated by Donegal. Monaghan/Cavan were defending well however and never looked like giving away anything too easily.
Black got through again on 65 minutes but he rushed his shot and three minutes later Richie Moore produced a fine piece of skill but saw his shot saved by Smith. Chris Malseed had the game’s final chance but his looping header went just wide of the post.
This defeat now makes qualifying a bigger task than had Donegal managed to win or draw but the match will have given Dorrian a chance to see his new players in a competitive situation and he will now look at his options ahead of meeting the Inishowen League in the next group match. A bigger task certainly but not an impossible one for this panel who have the talent to progress if they can get it right on the day. Inishowen will be hard to beat and they already have a victory posted on the Group Table having defeated Sligo/Leitrim on Saturday night.