Category: Archive

Quarterfinal corkers at Croker

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Dublin 2-8

Donegal 0-14 By Malachy Clerkin

Seldom has a draw been a more apt result than after this, a fast, frenetic blockbuster of a game from which to glean a winner would have been to destroy its beauty. Both sides can lay claim to having left the game behind them, but both can be equally happy to be allowed another crack at it.

It was also fitting, perhaps that Dublin neither moved on or fell back since to do so without Tommy Lyons on their sideline would simply have been wrong. Lyons was admitted to hospital on Sunday morning, for reasons that are as yet unclear and so couldn’t bestride the sideline like the colossus he is on Monday. Whatever fate is to befall his young side, he won’t enjoy not being there to oversee it. Hopes were high in the Dublin dressing room after the game that he’d be able make the replay on Saturday 17 August.

There were bumps and bruises early on – both sides had substitutions forced upon them within 10 minutes of the throw-in. Damien Diver replaced Barry Monaghan for Donegal, with Darren Magee taking Paul Casey’s spot on the Dublin side. The physicality took a while to leave the game, but when it did, both sides played some decent stuff.

Donegal’s use of a two-man full forward line is looking like a tactic that could take them far. Brendan Devenney and Adrian Sweeney are excellent possession-winners and score-takers and if the Donegal midfield can keep them supplied, they’ll do damage. Their biggest problem on Monday was that the ever-game Brian Roper – the link between the inside pair and everyone else – was superbly marshalled by Peadar Andrews throughout. If he’d been able to use even 50 per cent more of the ball he won, Sweeney and Devenney would have carried Donegal home with much to spare.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

As it turned out, things were nip and tuck all the way. Dublin opened the scoring after 13 (thirteen!!) minutes, Donegal were 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after 16, Dublin were 1-2 to 0-3 ahead after 18 and Donegal were 0-6 to 1-2 ahead after 24. Half-time arrived with Dublin a point ahead on the scoreboard but not a cigarette paper to put between them on the pitch.

The second half went on in much the same vein, neither side moving more than a point ahead, neither deserving to be more than a point behind. Sweeney and Devenney were causing just as much havoc as in the first half, but couldn’t squeeze any more than a couple of points apiece from Paddy Christie and Coman Goggins. Dessie Farrell and Jason Sherlock came off the Dublin bench to exercise the throats and ears of a sizeable portion of the 78,000 crowd, but neither really got into the rhythm of an exceptionally fast game.

And then, with five minutes to go and the teams level, what looked a lot like the turning point. The problem with Donegal’s short passing game is that as the day wears on and minds grow tired and messages take longer to get from the brain to the hand, mistakes are possible, likely even. And so it proved, Sherlock pouncing on a bout of indecision between Eamon Doherty and Raymond Sweeney and feeding Cosgrove. He finished with as much aplomb as he had in the first half.

Donegal were in trouble now because although they had been doing enough to keep pace with Dublin, beat them even, three scores in four minutes just wasn’t in keeping with the way the game was going. Ciaran Whelan was taking control of the midfield and with Jim McGuinness by this stage departed through injury, Donegal really didn’t look like being able to put Sweeney or Devenney into scoring positions.

Enter Paul McGonigle. Nominally the corner forward but playing as a third midfielder, he roused himself for one last effort. He scored one excellent point and foraged ferociously to set Sweeney up for another. And then, with time zipping away he played one last, hopeful ball up to Sweeney.

This was it, last chance, last hope for Donegal. Sweeney got the ball out under the Cusack Stand a half stride ahead of Goggins. A jink, a step and a drop of the shoulder later and he had left Goggins sprawling on the floor. He could have got greedy, he was through on goal with Devenney inside and one of them could have finished to the net. But no, a level head ruled a beating heart and he fisted over the bar to leave the sides level.

No more or less than either side deserved.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese