Johnny McGroddy after scoring Donegal's second goal
Donegal turned in a scintillating second half performance as they came from behind to run out big winners over Monaghan in O’Donnell Park on Saturday afternoon.
Down by two points early in the second half having been lucky to be level at half-time, Donegal came out of their shell in the second period.
Johnny McGroddy, Eric Carr and late substitute Shane Monaghan - nephew of former Donegal ace Brendan Devenney - scored the goals for a transformed Donegal in the second period.
McGroddy tucked away the first of the second half goals on 46 minutes after Luke Doherty twice split the posts from close in frees to tie up the game.
Carlos O’Reilly had netted Donegal’s first goal on the stroke of half-time to bring Rory Kavanagh’s men back into a game that was slipping away from them.
Donegal were trailing by four points when O’Reilly rose high in the Monaghan goalmouth to win possession and neatly slot home for a one point game.
Midfielder Kealan Doherty landed the equaliser with a monster and very important point in injury time to tie the game. Donegal 1-3, Monaghan 0-6 at half-time.
After two early unanswered Tiernan Kierans points - Monaghan’s only scores of the second half - Donegal took over.
And with man of the match Senan Rooney prodding and probing and leading the Donegal charge, the locals, through the impressive Luke Doherty, had drawn level, 1-5 to 0-8, by the 44 minute mark.
Two minutes later McGroddy was punching the air after Doherty won the Monaghan kickout to set up the Downings man. Donegal were now 2-5 to 0-8 up.
And it was all Donegal from then to the finish. Daithi Roberts converted a '45, Eric Carr and McGroddy - Donegal’s two man full forward line- added points to stretch a rampant Donegal's lead out to six.
Doherty and Ciaran Moore raised two more white flags before Rooney with pinpoint accuracy set up Carr for goal number three and a 3-10 to 0-8 lead, six minutes from the end of normal time. .
And with the clock ticking into injury time Shane Monaghan, with his first touch, rattled the Monaghan net for goal number four.
This was a big win and a huge turnaround against a Monaghan side who looked every bit the class side they were reputed to be in the first half.
Donegal kicked the first score and matched the visitors on the scoreboard in the opening exchanges. McGroddy and Carr posted the two opening Donegal points with Ben Ryan and Ciaran McDonald notching the early Monaghan scores.
But Monaghan took a grip towards the end of the opening quarter and Ryan, Darragh Dempsey and Eoin Duffy, all in the space of two minutes, pointed as Monaghan moved three ahead by the midway mark in the half.
Monaghan led 0-5 to 0-2 after 14 minutes and that lead was out to four before those late strikes from O’Reilly and Doherty tied up the game at the interval and gave hope to Donegal in the second half.
Donegal will now face Tyrone in the final on May 5th.
DONEGAL; Daithi Roberts (0-1,1’45) (Gaoth Dobhair);Richard O’Rourke (Four Masters), Shane Meehan (St Nauls), Dylan Dorrian (Milford); Eoin De Burca (Gaoth Dobhair), Jack Gallagher (Glenswiilly), Domhnall McBride (Gaoth Dobhair); Eoin Dowling (St Eunan’s), Kealan Doherty (0-1) Glenswilly); Carlos O’Reilly (1-0) (St Michael’s), Senan Rooney (Aodh Ruadh), Ciaran Moore (0-1) (St Eunan’s); Johnny McGroddy (1-2) (Downings), Luke Doherty(0-3,3f)(Urris), Eric Carr (1-2,2ff) (Naomh Columba).
Subs; Jamie Grant (Termon) for C O’Reily, 39; Shane Monaghan (Naomh Colmcille) for L Doherty, 62, Daire Gallagher (Dungloe) for E De Burca,63,inj; Shane Monaghan (1-0)(Naomh Colmcille) for L Doherty, 62.
Subs: Jamie Grant (Termon) for C O’Reily, 39; Shane Monaghan (1-0) (Naomh Colmcille) for L Doherty, 62, Daire Gallagher (Dungloe) for E De Burca, 63, inj;
MONAGHAN: Ciaran O’Reilly; Cian Maguire, David Kerley, Darren McMahon; Kyle Connolly, Eoin Duffy (0-1), Nathan McCaul; Darragh Treanor, Alastair Stewart; Ben Ryan (0-3, 3f), Darragh Dempsey (0-1), Shane Slevin; Ciaran McDonald (0-1), Tiernan Kierans (0-2, 1f), Declan Courtney.
Subs: Jason Duffy for K Conway, 42; Conor Cappaldi for B Ryan, 53; Michael Keenan for T Kierans, 55, Conor Durney for C Maguire, 58.
REFEREE; John Murphy (Fermanagh)