Donegal have narrow win in challenge game

Donegal got another good workout ahead of the National League campaign with an entertaining encounter against All-Ireland club semi-finalists, St. Brigid’s of Roscommon on Friday night.

Donegal got another good workout ahead of the National League campaign with an entertaining encounter against All-Ireland club semi-finalists, St. Brigid’s of Roscommon on Friday night.

Donegal 0-15

St. Brigid’s (Roscommon) 1-11

Report: Peter Campbell

In good conditions under the lights at the Sligo IT, Donegal were very much on top in the opening quarter, but the Roscommon club side (who started without two of their big names, Karl Mannion and Senan Gilbride) gradually found their feet and really put it up to Donegal in the second half.

The game saw the return to the Donegal colours for the first time in 2012 of Paul Durcan, Karl Lacey, Mark McHugh, Adrian Hanlon and Rory Kavanagh. There was also a senior debut for young Marty O’Reilly of MacCumhaill’s when he came on as a replacement in the second half.

Stephen Griffin and Adrian Hanlon were paired as the Donegal front line men and while both did well at times individually, they found it tough as St. Brigid’s played an extra player back in the last line of defence.

Donegal were six points ahead inside 16 minutes with St. Brigid’s hardly getting a sniff. Christy Toye (2), Ryan Bradley, Stephen Griffin (2) and Adrian Hanlon were the point scorers. Griffin’s second point on nine minutes should have been a goal after good work by Hanlon who drew the last defender but Griffin’s effort went high over the crossbar from close range.

There were 23 minutes on the clock before Frankie Dolan raised the first flag for St. Brigid’s from a free. The sharpshooter had one effort before that but was well off target.

However, before half-time he struck for three more frees, while Adrian Hanlon had Donegal’s only other first half score to leave the half-time score - Donegal 0-7, St. Brigid’s 0-4.

Dolan continued where he had left off by hitting another free two minutes into the second half, but Donegal hit back against the breeze with Martin McElhinney pointing and then Christy Toye and Anthony Thompson combined to put Stephen Griffin in for another.

Adrian Hanlon pointed a free to open a five point gap before Frankie Dolan had St. Brigid’s first point from play on 45 minutes.

Griffin pointed a close-in free before St. Brigid’s got right back in the game when Conor McHugh got in for a goal for St. Brigid’s. There seemed to be a little piece of fortune as a Donegal defender seemed to be fouled in the build-up to the score.

Mark McHugh stretched the lead to three on 55 minutes but the introduction of Senan Gilbride saw the big full-forward hit two frees and Garvan Dolan levelled matters in a thre minute spell.

Donegal responded with Stephen Griffin and Christy Toye pointing but Gerard Cunniffe reduced the margin to the minimum with four minutes left.

Griffin closed the Donegal scoring with another free while Cathal McHugh had the final score for the Rosccommon side.

The game was of more benefit to Donegal that the previous Friday night’s game against the Roscommon side. The lights at Sligo IT were much better than Kinawley and the intensity level was probably higher.

Neil McGee had a great tussle with several St. Brigid’s players while Leo McLoone looks in great shape at centre-half ahead of the league campaign. The Glenties man was bedevilled by injury last season but now fully fit, he provides plenty of options to Jim McGuinness.

Christy Toye had a good 70 minutes at midfield, while Mark McHugh and Stephen Griffin worked hard up front. The return of Karl Lacey was signficant. He had a good first half but faded a little in the second, while Rory Kavanagh’s return as a substitute is also a welcome sight for supporters.

St. Brigid’s were reluctant to give a lineout but their scorers were: Frankie Dolan 0-6, 5f; Conor McHugh 1-0; Senan Gilbride 0-2,2f; Garvan Dolan, Gerard Cunniffe, Cathal McHugh 0-1 each.

Donegal: Paul Durcan: Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn; Karl Lacey, Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson; Christy Toye (0-3), Martin McElhinney; Eoin Waide, Ryan Bradley (0-1), Mark McHugh (0-1); Adrian Hanlon (0-3,1f), Stephen Griffin (0-7, 3f), David Walsh. Subs., Rory Kavanagh for McElhinney; Marty O’Reilly for Waide, both 47.

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)