By Mike Fitzpatrick
Although both sides had already qualified for the knockout phase of the championship, there was still quite a lot at stake at Gaelic Park for Donegal and Mayo. The winner of this game would receive an automatic entry into the semi-final, whereas the loser would face the tough prospect of a tie with either Westput Gaels or Rockland.
Donegal’s form has dipped of late, and going into this game they were eager to recapture it. Poor finishing by both sides early on didn’t promise much in the way of a high scoring competition, but once the two sets of players got into the groove, there seemed to be no stopping them.
Dermot Boylan opened the scoring for Donegal with a well taken point early on, resulting from Ronan Rocks’ quickly taken free kick. Maurice Sheridan replied with two points in rapid succession for Mayo to give his side an early lead. One of these points would surely have been a goal had it not been for some brave goalkeeping from Donegal’s Enda Lohan.
Some exciting football quickly followed with Donegal’s Mark McClafferty (playing the first of two games for his county) Gary Dowd and Tadgh O’Dwyer exchanging passes on route to goal resulting in a fine team oriented point from Pearse Coyle to level the tie at two points apiece. Gary Dowd and Ronan Rocks scored two points quickly after following some intelligent wing play from Boylan. Rocks continued his good free taking form with another point before half time and Dowd got in on the scoring action himself with a well taken point following a good run from the heart of midfield. Sheridan scored his third point of the afternoon and was quickly followed by a point apiece by John Browne and Anthony McDermott to level the score going into half time. Browne’s point resulted from some tenacious midfield work on his behalf. At the break the score was tied at six points each.
The second half really exploded, with Dowd, Anton Diver and Rocks again, scoring a point each, only to be matched by Mayo’s Sheridan, Colm McMenaman and Costello, to level the game yet again.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
Rocks pointed a free kick for Donegal, and Boylan made it 11-9 in favor of the Donegal men. Sheridan popped up in the box to slot a great goal home for Mayo, giving his side a slight advantage only to see the lead grabbed away at the hands of Donegal’s Rocks, who leveled the tie once more. Tadgh Donovan and Dowd scored a point each for Donegal, to make it stand at 0-14 to 1-9.
The balance of power continued to swap hands throughout the second half, with Marshall McAdoo and Mick Higgins hitting points to bring the game to an even keel once more. Although John Browne scored a great individual point for Mayo late on, a flurry of goalward action from Rocks, Diver and Dowd finally killed off Mayo’s brave hopes of victory.
Donegal scorers: Boylan 0-2, Coyle 0-1, Dowd 0-4, Rocks 0-6, Diver 0-2, O’Dwyer 0-1, Molloy 0-1, Donovan 0-1.
Mayo scorers: Sheridan 1-4, Costello 0-2, McDermott 0-1, McMenamon 0-1, Browne 0-2.