By Mike Fitzpatrick
Donegal 3-13, Down 1-11
This battle of the Ulster men Sunday at Gaelic Park resulted in another loss for Sean Rogan’s Down men, having been defeated by Rangers and Fermanagh already this season despite putting up spirited displays. Donegal are in a different position, however, having obtained points from their games versus Fermanagh and Rockland, and in doing so, becoming one of the feared forces in the Junior Football A Division. Lawrence McGrath’s men were clearly the favorites to win this contest, and win it they did, putting on the style throughout the tie.
The first half was a high-scoring affair, with both sides registering early points, Donegal through Dermot Boylan and Sean McGinlay, and Fermanagh replying thanks to Collie Mathers and Stephen Magee. Two goals from Donegal’s Dermot Boylan and Tadhg Donovan were to prove the difference between the sides toward the end of the first half, and a great display in midfield from Donegal’s New York player Gary Dowd clearly disrupted Down’s forward movements. Magee hit another couple for Down, to suggest that Donegal clearly had a fight on their hands, followed by some accurate shooting from Marty Middleton and Chris McManus, brought the tie a little closer. Donegal’s powerhouse forward line, though, including such luminaries as the aforementioned Donovan, Boylan and Anton Diver, left the Down team trailing by five points going into the interval.
Dowd stole the show in the second half. Despite being heavily marked, he managed to take advantage of fouls against him by scoring with a couple of frees, and then surged forward to slam home a goal to give Donegal an impressive lead. Down, though, were far from finished. Throughout the second half they barged through the Donegal backline to register points from Magee, and a goal from Middleton that clearly gave them some hope. Plunkett Tuohy, Paul Morgan and Magee plowed forward in search of another Down goal but were left lacking when it came to the final push in front of goal.
Donegal have become accustomed to staging second-half resurgences, as they did versus Fermanagh a couple of weeks back, when they lucked out of the tie, they came back to snatch the victory at the death. Donegal clearly look to be one of the favorites for this division, and upon this kind of display they’ll surely be up there at the end of the season.
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Donegal: Enda Lohan, Pat McGill, Mark McClafferty, P.J. Colgan, Gary Rocks, Martin Gallagher, Owen Farrell (0-2), Gary Dowd (1-3), James Doherty, Sean McGinlay (0-1), Leslie McGettigan, Tadhg Donovan (1-2), Liam Gallagher (0-2), Dermot Boylan (1-2), Anton Diver (0-1). Subs: Darren McGuinness, Sean McMorrow.
Down: John Morgan, James Power, Marty McGivern, Peter Devlin, Liam Murray, Jake Rooney, Collie Mathers (0-1), Adrian Brown (0-1), Marty Middleton (1-3), Pauric Tunney, Stephen Magee (0-5), Chris McManus (0-1), Paul Morgan, Plunkett Tuohy, Michael McCabe.