Hugh McFadden rises high in midfield against Kildare. Photo Thomas Gallagher
Donegal scraped a two point win to keep their Division One survival hopes alive in Fr. Tierney Park, Ballyshannon.
However, there will be post mortems about conceding three goals and they were lucky on another two occasions as Kildare found huge gaps in the middle of the Donegal defence
It was probably Donegal's worst performance of the year, yet they ended getting their first league points. The win puts them back in the mix as regards staying in Division One, but they will need improvement as they go to Healy Park, Omagh next Saturday night.
Kildare manager, Cian O'Neill, was outraged with the decision to red card his captain Eoin Doyle on 14 minutes. Doyle had been booked earlier but then lost his gumshield. Referee David Gough told him to go the sideline and get a replacement but on his way there the Kildare 'keeper aimed a kick-out at hime and he caught it. Gough showed him a yellow card and then realised that it was his second yellow, so he was shown red.
The Kildare manager felt that the game should have been stopped until his captain got off the field to replace his gumshield as the 'keeper was unaware of the situation.
Donegal went three points clear on two occasions in the second half but each time they conceded a goal to allow Kildare back into the contest.
It took a fortuitous goal from Ryan McHugh with six minutes left to finally put enough daylight between the teams, the ball deceiving the Kildare 'keeper and ending in the net. McHugh ended as Donegal's top scorer while Patrick McBrearty had three fisted points in his tally of four.
Kildare had the aid of the strong breeze and got off to a whirlwind start with a goal on two minutes. Tommy Moolick broke clear to set up Daniel Flynn for an easy finish.
Ryan McHugh set up Odhran MacNiallais for a Donegal point but they were lucky not to concede a second goal as Flynn was adjudged to be in the square when palming home. Kevin Feely pointed a free while Hugh McFadden had a good Donegal point at the other end.
Kildare were bizarrely reduced to 14 on 14 minutes when captain Eoin Doyle, who was booked for a late tackle on Ryan McHugh, was then shown a second yellow for not having a gumbshield.
While Johnny Byrne added a point for the Lilywhites, they were lucky not to be reduced to 13 when Cian O'Donoghue was high and into the back of Ryan McHugh.
Michael Murphy pointed a free but Kevin Keely cancelled that score, but in the final ten minutes Patrick McBrearty came to life to fist two good points and leave just a point in it at the break - Donegal 0-5, Kildare 1-3.
Donegal also had a goal chance when Michael Murphy put Jamie Brennan through, but his effort was well blocked.
The second half was a more exciting affair. The sides traded early points before Donegal hit four on the trot to go three clear. But then a second goal by Niall Kelly had Kildare level and Fergal Conway put them in front.
Donegal again hit back with Ryan McHugh to the fore with two great points as they again went three clear.
But once more a third goal from David Slattery had the sides level with ten minutes left.
A point from Hugh McFadden and a goal from Ryan McHugh, which went all the way to the net from near the sideline was the last turning point.
Kildare did get two late points but it was not enough to deprive Donegal of the win.
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Scorers: Donegal: Ryan McHugh 1-2; Patrick McBrearty 0-4,1f; Michael Murphy 0-3,1f; Hugh McFadden 0-2; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Odhran Mac Niallais, Jamie Brennan, Niall O'Donnell 0-1 each.
Kildare: Daniel Flynn 1-1; Kevin Feely 0-3,3f; Niall Kelly, David Slattery 1-0 each; Johnny Byrne, Kevin Flynn 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Caolan Ward, Stephen McMenamin; Paul Brennan, Eamonn Doherty, Tony McClenaghan; Hugh McFadden, Odhran Mac Niallais; Ryan McHugh, Leo McLoone, Mark McHugh; Patrick McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan. Subs., Niall O'Donnell for McClenaghan ht; Neil McGee for Ward 51; Stephen McBrearty for Brennan 55; Caolan McGonagle for M McHugh 60; Ciaran Thompson for Mac Niallais 64; Nathan Mullins for O'Donnell 70
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, David Hyland, Mick O'Grady; Cian O'Donoghue, Eoin Doyle, Johnny Byrne; Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick; Fergal Conway, Niall Kelly, Paul Cribbin; Ben McCormack, Daniel Flynn, Keith Cribbin. Subs., Paddy Brophy for McCormack 25; Kevin Flynn for O'Donoghue ht; David Slattery for P Cribbin 55; Chris Healy for Kelly 60; Fionn Dowling for Conway 64; Mark Sherry for Moolick 69
REFEREE: David Gough (Meath)