Donegal far too good for Sligo in first Intercounty challenge of the year

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

Donegal far too good for Sligo in first Intercounty challenge of the year

Jason McGee on the ball for Donegal against Sligo Picture Geraldine Diver

Donegal got into the festive mood with a fifteen point win over Sligo in a pre-season challenge game at Colaiste Ailigh, in Letterkenny, this afternoon.

Donegal …………. 2-19

Sligo ………………. 1-7

Ciaran Diver and Jamie Brennan scored the goals for a largely experimental Donegal, who fielded just only a handful of last summer’s Ulster championship winning side.

Shaun Patton, Eamon Doherty, Michael Langan, Martin McElhinney, Marty O’Reilly and Caolan Ward were the only regulars as Donegal boss took the opportunity to blood a number of young guns.

Goalscorer Ciaran Diver from Moville; Peadar Mogan, St Naul’s; Paddy Dolan, Convoy and Lorcan Connor, Downings were all given their heads.

Though the game was even enough in the opening half, Donegal  with new head coach Stephen Rochford looking on, led by four points at the break.

Diver’s palmed goal after a sweeping move on 20 minutes was the big score of the first half and propelled the locals into a 1-3 to 0-2 lead.

Jason McGee, who made a welcome return to the team after a season with the Donegal U-20s, kicked two of the game’s opening points.

Michael Langan posted the other point while Alan McLaughlin and Adrian Cummins hit the opening Sligo points.

Sligo, who enjoyed their best spell in the second quarter, twice reduced the margin to one point before Donegal closed out the half with points from Diver, McGee and Caolan Ward.

Donegal, with Declan Bonner running his subs bench in the course of the second half, pulled away.

In all the Donegal boss made ten changes in the second period with Ciaran Thompson, Jamie Brennan, Eoin McHugh, John Campbell, Paul Brennan, Michael Lynch, Hugh McFadden, Niall O’Donnell, Darragh Mulgrew and Oisin Gallen all introduced in the second period.

Michael Langan, Lorcan Connor and Ciaran Thompson struck early in the second period with three quickfire points, to just one in response from the visitors.

And as Bonner emptied the bench Niall O’Donnell, Darragh Mulgrew , Thompson and Langan pointed before Jamie Brennan struck for goal number two in the first minute of injury time.

Brennan’s goal extended the Donegal lead out to 2-16 to 0-7 before Hugh McFadden (2) and John Campbell rounded off the scoring for the locals.

Adrian Marron winning possession under the new mark rule struck the Sligo goal in the closing seconds.

All in all, this was a good enough workout though it has to be pointed out Sligo are a Division Three side and for much of the tie they looked at least a level below Donegal.

The new playing rules seemed to work and there was no great confusion with one or two players being caught out on the forward only rule from a sideline.

Referee Seamus McGonagle also said afterwards that his biggest difficulty was identifying the new forward mark.

The experienced official said the difficulty was making sure the ball had travelled at least 20 metres and was played from outside the 45.  

DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Caolan Ward (0-1), Brendan McCole, Conor Morrison; Tony McCleneghan, Eamon Doherty, Peadar Mogan; Jason McGee (0-3), Caolan McGonagle; Michael Langan (0-3), Martin McElhinney, Paddy Dolan; Ciaran Diver (1-1), Lorcan Connor (0-1), Marty O’Reilly.

Subs:  Ciaran Thompson (0-3,1f) for P Dolan, Jamie Brennan (1-0) for M McElhinney, Eoin McHugh for P Mogan, Paul Brennan for E Doherty, Michael Lynch for S Patton, Hugh McFadden (0-2) for J McGee, Niall O’Donnell (0-3) for M O’Reilly, Darragh Mulgrew (0-1) for T McCleneghan, John Campbell (0-1) for L Connor, Oisin Gallen for C Diver, Michael Lynch for S Patton.

SLIGO: Alan Davy; Kevin Henry, Peter Laffey, Nathan Mullen; Luke Gilmartin, Paul McNamara, Gerard Kelly Lynch (0-1); Dara Cummins (0-1), Paul Kilcoyne; Keelan Cawley, Luke Towey, Oisin Kennedy (0-1); Kieran Dowd, Adrian Marren (1-2,1f), Alan McLaughlin (0-2). Subs used: Barry Walsh, Niall Canning, James Clarke, George Wall, Michael Gordan, Adrian Cummins. 

See also: Declan Bonner reaction to game