Donegal second half replacement Niall Cleary breaks out of defence against Leitrim. Photo: Geraldine Diver
Donegal coasted into the semi-final of the Nicky Rackard Cup with a runaway win over Leitrim in O’Donnell Park this afternoon.
Donegal . . . . 2-28
Leitrim . . . 2-8
The margin was 20 points in the end as Donegal won pulling up against a Leitrim side who to their credit, battled to the final whistle.
But from a long way out there was never any great doubt about the outcome. Donegal play in Division 2B of the Allianz Hurling League, two tiers above Leitrim who play their hurling in Division 3B.
And without ever hitting top gear they were at least three gears above the Shannonsiders.
Donegal were well on their way to a place in the semi-final at half-time as they led by 14 points, 1-16 to 0-5.
David Flynn, who scored 1-13 of Donegal’s total, had already chalked up 1-9 by half-time with 1-6 from play.
Gerard Gilmore 0-3, Joe Boyle 0-2, Bernard Lafferty and Enda McDermott 0-1 each, were the other Donegal men on target in the first half.
That great old warrior of Leitrim hurling, Clement Cunniffe, and Cathal O’Donovan, 0-2 each, and James Clancy 0-1 were the first-half Leitrim scorers.
Leitrim led twice in the opening five minutes with Cunniffe scoring the game’s first score, and O’Donovan posting the points for the visitors either side of a Flynn '65.
But the writing was on the wall fairly early for Leitrim as Flynn, in acres of space, landed two long points from play to signal his and Donegal’s intent.
Flynn had hit three points and Joe Boyle one before Enda McDermott created the opening for Flynn to hit the net.
That was on 11 minutes and opened up a 1-4 to 0-2 lead. And with the wind in their sails Bernard Lafferty, Enda McDermott, Flynn, Joe Boyle and Gerard Gilmore all landed points before the break.
Mickey McCann made a number of changes in the second half as Kevin Campbell, Niall Cleary, Lee Henderson, Caolan McDermott and Ciaran Tourish were given a run out.
But the changes did not have any adverse effect. Donegal continued to dominate and they had stretched the lead out to 1-19 to 0-7, by the time Clement Cunniffe capitalised on a mistake in the full-back line to net Leitrim’s first goal.
The Leitrim goal was only a minor blip and it was wiped out in a matter of minutes and Donegal had stretched their total out to 2-24 before Ben Murray struck for Leitrim’s second goal, ten minutes from the end.
Replacements Caolan McDermott, Kevin Campbell and Lee Henderson were among the Donegal scorers.
And the winners finished with a flourish as they posted four points to Leitrim’s one in the closing minutes.
DONEGAL: Paul Burns: Padraig Doherty, Christopher McDermott, Stephen Gillespie; Jamesie Donnelly, Sean McVeigh, Gavin Browne; Danny Cullen (0-1), Ciaran Mathewson (0-1); Ronan McDermott, Joe Boyle (0-2), Gerard Gilmore (1-4); Bernard Lafferty (0-1) Enda McDermott (0-1), Davin Flynn (1-13, 4f, 1’45).
Subs: Kevin Campbell (0-2) for R McDermott, Niall Cleary for G Browne both h/t; Lee Henderson (0-2) for J Boyle, 43; Caolan McDermott (0-1) for E McDermott 54; Ciaran Tourish for C McDermott 61.
LEITRIM: Declan Molloy; Kevin McGrath, Cathal McCrann, Paul Earley; Enda Moreton, Conor Byrne, Niall McLaughlin; James Glancy (0-1), Liam Moreton; Ben Murray (1-0), Karl McDermott, David McGovern; Cathal Donovan (0-2), Clement Cunniffe (1-5, 4f), Zak Moradi.
Subs: Declan Ryan for P Earley h/t; Peter Poinard for D McGovern 53; Tomás Clancy for K McGrath 58.
REFEREE: Kevin McGeeney (Roscommon).