Jack O'Loughlin on the run for Donegal Picture: Geraldine Diver
Donegal fell to their third defeat in-a-row in the Allianz National League as they went down to Wicklow, this afternoon in O’Donnell Park.
Donegal ……….. 0-15
Two second half Wicklow goals were hammer blows for a Donegal side who started without ace marksman and top scorer Declan Coulter. The former Armagh player, who scored 0-9 against Derry last time out, aggravated an old calf injury on Saturday evening.
In his absence Lee Henderson stepped into the breach and the MacCumhaills man did not let his side down as he ended the game with ten points to his name.
Donegal led by three points at the end of a scrappy and hard fought opening 35 minutes.
Lee Henderson was impeccable from placed balls as he converted five frees and a 65.
One of the points, though wind assisted, was a massive strike from the middle of the field about ten metres in from the stand.
Donegal got off to a bright start and took the fight to the men from the Garden County and led 0-4 to 0-1 by the end of the first quarter.
Henderson did the business for the locals with Donal Staunton pointing for Kildare.
Donegal continued to press and shot four wides before Wicklow hit a purple patch and posted four points without a response to go one up.
Enda Donohue, Moorehouse (two frees) and substitute Andy O’Brien with his first touch scored the points for the visitors.
But Donegal responded in style and they took a three point lead - 0-8 to 0-5 - to the dressing room thanks to a late scoring burst and points from Henderson, Ciaran Mathewson and Danny Cullen.
Sean McVeigh made it a four point Donegal advantage within a minute of the restart but Wicklow were back to within a point seconds later after Eoin McCormick found the back of the Donegal net for the game’s opening goal.
Donegal, to their credit refused to buckle and Cullen, who had fine game in the middle of the field, and Henderson added points.
But a second Wicklow goal in the middle of the second period off the stick of Staunton was the hammer blow as Wicklow opened up a three point lead.
While Henderson and Duffy hit Donegal points Wicklow through Donohue and Luke Evans led by five with a quarter hour to play.
Donegal did apply late pressure and thanks to strikes from the accurate stick of Henderson they did reduce the margin back to two with just over ten minutes remaining.
But Wicklow regrouped again in the closing minutes and Donohue and O’Brien closed out the game with late points.
The defeat means Donegal with two games still to play, away to Down next weekend and at home to Warwickshire the following weekend, have now been dragged into a relegation dogfight, most likely against Warwickshire.
DONEGAL: Paul Burns; Cormac Finn, Padraig Doherty, Stephen Gillespie; Gavin Browne, Christopher McDermott, Jack O'Loughlin; Joe Boyle, Danny Cullen (0-2); Ciaran Mathewson (0-1), Lee Henderson (0-10,1’65’,9f), Conor O’Grady; Sean McVeigh (0-1) Ronan McDermott, Dylan Duffy (0-1). Subs: Conor Parke for C O’Grady 53; Oisin Rooney for C Finn 64; P J McCarron for S Anderson 68
WICKLOW: Robert Fitzgerald; Brian Kearney, Billy Cuddihy, Martin O’Brien; Gerry Byrne, Ronan Keddy, Warren Kavanagh (0-1); John Henderson, Stephen Kelly; Eoin McCormick (1-1), Donal Staunton (0-2), Jack Doyle; Enda Donohue (0-2,1f), Christopher Moorehouse (0-4,2f), Michael Boland. Subs: Andy O’Brien (0-2) for R Keddy 25; Luke Evans (0-1) for M Boland 40; Jonathan O’Neill (1-0) for C Moorhouse 52; Ronan Byrne for J Doyle 63; Ciaran Breen for B Kearney 70