Donegal U-17s. Photo Geraldine Diver
Donegal U-17s were just no match for a superb Monaghan side in the final of the Jim McGuigan Cup in Drumragh today.
Apart from the opening 15 minutes, Donegal were playing second fiddle in nearly every part of the field. Indeed, but for some very good goalkeeping by Corey Byrne, the margin could have been bigger.
Senan Rooney, Nathan Byrne and Eric Carr were probably the best Donegal players, while Monaghan had some superb displays, not least from the half-forward line of Aaron Mulligan, Sean Jones and Karl Gallagher while Jason Irwin also looked very sharp.
Donegal started really well and led by 0-5 to 0-1 after 11 minutes, but it was to prove the only good period of the first half for the Tirconaill men.
Nathan Byrne at full-forward had a really fruitful opening period, winning plenty of possession and creating scores. Shane O'Donnell had Donegal ahead on four minutes and Leo Dunphy doubled the lead.
Jason Irwin had Monaghan's first point on six minutes but points from Byrne, Eric Carr and Dunphy had Donegal in a good position.
Irwin hit Monaghan's second point before Donegal hit two more from Eric Carr and Leo Dunphy.
However, Monaghan hit back with Jason Irwin firing home on the ground after Donegal had done well to overturn the ball.
Within minutes Monaghan were on terms with points from Jordan McGarrell and Irwin, who was causing the Donegal defence much trouble.
Senan Rooney won a free for Shane O'Donnell to put Donegal back in front, but Monaghan were now controlling matters. Aaron Mulligan, who was leading the attack, and Sean Jones had Monaghan in front and even though Leo Dunphy levelled on 29 minutes, Monaghan added three points in added time from Mulligan, Karl Gallagher (a nephew of former Donegal star Michael G) and Sean Jones.
Indeed, but for two great saves from 'keeper Corey Byrne, the half-time scoreline of Donegal 0-9, Monaghan 1-9 would have been much worse.
The lights went out on any possible Donegal comeback as early as the 32nd minute when big full-forward Loughlinn Power fielded behind the Donegal defence and fired home the second goal.
They quickly added five points with Sean Jones (3), Mulligan and Irwin the scorers to open the gap to 2-14 to 0-9.#]
Eric Carr had Donegal's first second half point on 41 minutes but Mulligan quickly replied, before Donegal got their goal. Shane O'Donnell started the move and sent Senan Rooney forward. The ball broke from him to substitute Dylan Doogan to scramble home.
Shane O'Donnell added a free but Jones (2) and Mulligan cancelled the Donegal scores. Dylan Doogan did have a goal chance but was denied by the Monaghan 'keeper, as the game fizzled out.
Before the end both sides were reduced to 14. Charlie Byrne, a half-time substitute for Donegal, saw yellow twice, while Sean Jones was shown black after earlier getting a yellow.
Scorers - Donegal: Leo Dunphy 0-4; Eric Carr 0-3; Shane O'Donnell 0-3,2f; Dylan Doogan 1-1; Nathan Byrne 0-1.
Monaghan: Sean Jones 0-7,2f; Jason Irwin 1-4; Aaron Mulligan 0-4,2f; Karl Gallagher 0-3; Loughlinn Power 1-0; Robbie Hanratty (f), Jordan McGarrell, Michael Meehan 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: Corey Byrne; Aaron Gilhooley, Cillian Gildea, Caolan Gallagher; Anthony Doherty, Shane Gillespie, Jamie Grant; Michael Coughlan, Rory O'Donnell; Shane O'Donnell, Senan Rooney, Steven McFadden; Eric Carr, Nathan Byrne, Leo Dunphy. Subs., Jonathan Toye for McFadden 31; Dylan Doogan and Charlie Breslin for Grant and Coughlan ht; Josh Conlon for Dunphy 44; Sean Og Byrne for Rooney 59
MONAGHAN: Ryan McNulty; Jack McGeown, Jack Doogan, Shane Hanratty; Christopher Flood, Breandan Og Dufaigh, Jordan McGarrell; Andrew Moore, Joel Wilson; Aaron Mulligan, Sean Jones, Karl Gallagher; Donnach Swinburne, Loughlinn Power, Jason Irwin. Subs., Michael Meehan for McGeown 44; Robbie Hanratty for Wilson 45; Oisin O'Hanlon for Mulligan 54; Ronan McKeown for Irwin 58; Leon McCabe for Gallagher 61.
REFEREE: Micheal Moore (Down)