Category: Archive

GAA Roundup Donegal rally, earn draw with Fermanagh

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

Donegal 1-16, Fermanagh 2-13

The football championship may have a new format this summer, but guess what, the draw is alive and well and kicking once again. Admittedly, it was always going to be close between these Ulster rivals in a reprise of last season’s encounter, which Fermanagh shaded. However, a dead heat wasn’t what the counties would have ordered before the throw in at Ballybofey last Sunday.

Still, the GAA won’t be too bothered as the coffers will be further filled for the replay in Enniskillen on Saturday evening. In the end, a second chance was a fair enough outcome, but Fermanagh will be the more frustrated of the parties. Gone are the days when Donegal used to kick sand in the face of their neighbors and Fermanagh will now be installed as favorites for the replay.

Not surprisingly, there was the customary element of controversy associated with Ulster showdowns. If it wasn’t complaints from the two managers, John Maughan and Mickey Moran, about their difficulties in getting substitutes on to the pitch quickly enough, there was a serious dispute over Fermanagh’s second goal.

With Donegal leading by a point with eight minutes remaining, the influential Stephen Maguire got his fist to a lobbed ball, which flew over goalkeeper Tony Blake. But Donegal sub Brian Roper was adamant that he had Maguire’s effort away to safety before it crossed the line. After a few seconds delay, the closest umpire thought otherwise and the green flag was raised.

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An exasperated Moran was also convinced the goal should never have stood, yet he would’ve been heartened by the way his team responded during the closing minutes. Now two points, down Donegal had enough self-belief to pick off late scores by Tony Boyle, Brendan Devenney and Adrian Sweeney, while Fermanagh could only manage one from Rory Gallagher.

"Their second goal should have been the killer blow," said Devenney, who kicked six points, "but we battled away and showed a lot of courage to come back and that’s a good sign for the next day."

Meanwhile, Fermanagh’s boss, Maughan, conceded he was still relieved to be in the competition. "OK, we should have put them away, but we could have lost it also. It was a real emotional rollercoaster and at least we’re still in there."

Leading 1-9 to 1-7 at the break, Fermanagh were clearly in the ascendancy. An early Sweeney goal for Donegal had been cancelled out when the home defense concentrated too much on threat of Maguire and left sub Mark O’Donnell unattended as Gallagher’s pass came across. O’Donnell had what seemed an age to shoot past Blake.

With Maguire in outstanding form, Fermanagh were looking likely victors, especially after that hotly disputed second goal, but with Devenney and Sweeney warming to their task, Donegal were able to finish the stronger. Back to the drawing board on Saturday.

Kerry 3-17, Tipperary 1-4

No one had anticipated a shock as the reigning All-Ireland champions got their Munster defense under way in Clonmel, but everyone had expected a little more resistance from Tipperary. Yes, Kerry were definitely in the mood to inflict some pain. However, Tipp were a pathetic shadow of a team.

Even with the injured Declan Browne, a better show for all the training sessions, all the effort, should have been forthcoming. Under the new format, Tipp will have a second chance in the qualifying series for first-round losers, but it will be hard to generate some enthusiasm after this mauling.

From the off, when they swept down the pitch, trading passes with ease and accuracy, it looked ominous, and by the half hour all the Kerry forwards had scored to add to John Crowley’s early goal.

"We weren’t pushed very hard, but at least this will concentrate minds for the summer ahead," Kerry manager Paidi O Se. "Tipp are rebuilding at present and are a bit behind where they were a few years ago, but we played well. Still we’ll have to be careful against Limerick."

Dara O Cinneide and Noel Kennelly tagged on second-half goals and Maurice Fitzgerald, who started, kicked four points. Sean Maher managed a goal for the losers, who likely won’t be the only opposition to feel the sting of Kerry’s attack in the championship.

Cork 3-16, Waterford 1-7

More of the same at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, where Cork warmed up for a Munster semifinal against Clare with a stroll against Waterford. They led by only five points after half an hour, but then two goals by Fionan Murray and Aidan Dorgan in the space of a few seconds killed the game off.

"It was hard to judge how good we were," said Cork’s manager, Larry Tompkins, "but those two goals settled us down."

The winners’ two championship debutants, Alan Quirke and Graham Canty, performed well, while Joe Kavanagh made a welcome return from injury during the second half.

Carlow 1-9, Wicklow 2-6

A game of two halves, and you’ve guessed it, another championship draw. This time in Leinster at Newbridge, where Wicklow were in total control at the interval, only to see a seven point lead become a one point deficit in the closing stages.

Goals by Keith Byrne and Ronan Coffey, who converted a penalty after Tommy Gill had been fouled, had given Wicklow a 2-4 to 0-4 advantage at the changeover. But Carlow battled back and if Willie Quinlan hadn’t had two great chances saved by Tommy Murphy, and if two frees hadn’t been wasted by the normally accurate Sean Kavanagh, the result could have been so different.

"I don’t think it was complacency," offered Wicklow manager, Moses Coffey. "The game should really have been over at halftime, but we knew that Carlow would come back." Meanwhile, Coffey’s counterpart, Pat Roe, was all smiles. "That second-half performance reflects the players’ ability and I’m proud of what they’ve achieved." Next installment — Sunday, at Newbridge again.

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