A stirring final ten minutes saw Donegal fight back from three points down to draw 2-08 to 0-14 and earn a Bank of Ireland All-Ireland quarter-final replay with Dublin. Leinster champions Dublin, without manager Tommy Lyons who is in hospital, looked to be heading for victory following Ray Cosgrove's second goal after 62 minutes, but the Ulster finalists kept their nerve and hit three calmly taken points to tie the match and force a replay in what is expected to be another intriguing double-header at Croke Park with Armagh and Sligo on August 17.
The sides were inseparable for most of the 70 minutes, with the lead changing hands on no fewer than eight occasions. Dublin opened the scoring after 11 minutes when Shane Ryan scored his first point of the current campaign, but Donegal responded with three quickfire points from Brendan Devenney, early substitute Damien Diver and Adrian Sweeeney. Sweeney was proving a handful for Dublin captain Coman Goggins in the early stages before the latter switched wings, but Dublin struck for goal after 18 minutes when the busy Cosgrove punished the hesitant Donegal defence to hammer home a wonderful goal. The otherwise solid Eamonn Doherty misjudged a high ball into the Donegal backline and Cosgrove, scorer of two goals against Meath and one against Kildare, brushed off two challenges to sidefoot home.
MInutes later Senan Connell stretched Dublin's lead to two points, but Diver and Jim McGuinness replied before Sweeney again pointed to restore the lead as Donegal began to assert themselves in midfield. Alan Brogan and Devenney then swapped points before Cosgrove had a fisted point ruled because he was inside the square. Eamonn Doherty came to Donegal's rescue when he cleared off the line from Cosgrove's goalbound hand pass just before the break, but Cosgrove completed the first-half scoring with a 40 yard free in injury time.
John Gildea restored parity for the fourth time with a beautifully struck point in the second minute of the second-half, but John McNally hit back for the Dubs as the game continued to flow from end to end. Sweeney struck his third point of the match soon after when Devenney was denied by a point blank save from Stephen Cluxton, and Devenney and Johnny Magee exchanged scores to keep the sides level going into the final quarter with both teams visibly tiring in the sweltering heat.
McGuinness, who had an outstanding game in midfield, then earned a free 20 yards out when he was fouled after piercing the Dublin defence with an incisive run and Devenney pointed to give Donegal the lead again. Cosgrove and Devenney followed that with frees before Dublin midfielder Ciaran Whelan scored one of the scores of the game with a booming point from distance on the hour. Donegal were let off the hook minutes later when Jason Sherlock was denied a goal after his fisted effort struck the head of advancing goalkeeper Tony Blake and John Gildea was on hand to clear.
The second Dublin goal duly arrived when Sherlock intercepted a poor pass from Raymond Sweeney and the substitute played the ball inside for Cosgrove to slot home his second of the afternoon to give Dublin a three point lead with full-time looming. Paul McGonagle pulled one back for Donegal and Michael Hegarty combined well with Devenney to put a point between the sides. With the clock ticking down, Mickey Moran's men deservedly grabbed an equaliser in injury-time when Sweeney pointed for the fifth time with a calmly taken fisted effort to force a replay in two weeks' time and ensure another money-spinning sell-out for the GAA.
Filed by Shane Murray