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Donegal muscle past Banner County

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mike Fitzpatrick

In a definitive scenario of top cats versus underdogs, Donegal swamped past Clare to reach yet another semi final for the Senior Football Championship at Gaelic Park.

A team tipped for greatness so many times, yet failing at the final hurdle on different occasions, Connie Molloy’s men certainly feel that this could be their year.

And they’re not the only ones. Donegal have turned heads with some great performances this year, and are clearly out for revenge over their Munster rivals Kerry, who pipped them at the post last year.

With Cork inter-county stars Mike Cronin and Mark O’Connor in Pat Scanlan’s Clare side for the day, Clare were clearly out to cause an upset. They started strongly, with Michael Shea canceling out Donegal’s Donal Breslin’s point after 20 seconds.

The Bannermen then stunned the crowd by going in front thanks to a fine goal from Denis Russell to achieve a one-point lead after John Paul Boyle and Gary Dowd had added to Donegal’s tally.

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Kieran O’Hare leveled for Donegal, and Boyle and Niall McCready made it a two point Donegal lead going into the interval. After the break it was all Ulster for some time. Kieran Keaveney, Breslin, Dowd and O’Hare added to the Ulster side’s tally to give Molloy’s men an eight point lead, and Pat Scanlan saw his hopes of an upset diminishing.

Clare goalkeeper Martin O’Connor kept his side somewhat in the hunt with some fantastic work between the sticks, denying Breslin a goal, and Clare, seemingly upbeat after this, scored a couple of points through Adrian Harley, Cronin and Noel McElvanna.

It was still a seven-point game however, and playing a team such as Donegal, that kind of deficit is a very discouraging sign.

Donal Breslin did manage to score the goal O’Connor had earlier denied him, after a fantastic move involving Paddy McConigley, Edmund Cleary and Brian McClafferty.

A couple of personnel changes on either side did little to change the flow of the game, and some late scores from Boyle and O’Hare gave Donegal a ten-point victory. Donegal now march on to the semi finals where they will meet Tyrone.

Donegal: Eunan Doherty, Mark McClafferty, Donal Cummins, Paddy McConigley, Brian McClafferty, Anthony Lynch, Gerry Kelly, Mick Moran, Gary Dowd (0-2), Donal Breslin (1-2), Martin Coll, Niall McCready (0-2), Kieran O’Hare (0-4), John Paul Boyle (0-3), Kieran Keaveney (1-0). Subs: Edmund Cleary, Liam Gallagher

Clare: Martin O’Connor, Jim Downes, Paul O’Connor, Sean Sullivan, Marty McGlade, Mark O’Connor, Gary Rocks, Deni Russell (1-1), Sean Melly, Darren Doherty, Michael Cronin (0-1), Michael Shea (0-1), Dermot Boylan (01), Barry Malone, Noel McElvanna (0-1). Subs: Adrian Harley (0-1), Dave O’Halloran, Niall Dillane.

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