Second-half goals from Brendan Devenney and Brian Roper gave Donegal a flattering 2-19 to 0-15 victory over Tipperary in the third round of the Bank of Ireland All-Ireland qualifiers at Croke Park today. Brian McEniff's men registered nine wides in the first-half as they failed to press home their superiority after racing into a three-point lead with five minutes on the clock.
Captain Adrian Sweeney scored four of his side's points while the menacing Declan Browne kept his side in touch with three scores. Donegal's new look forward line of Brendan Devenney, Johnny McCafferty and Sweeney were finding plenty of space but, Sweeney aside, failed to convert several scoreable opportunities to leave them only a point ahead of Tipp at half time on a scoreline of 0-08 to 0-07.
In the first minutes of the second-half, Tipp seemed determined to take the game to Donegal and the sides traded the lead a number of times before Donegal seized the initiative. It was very much the Declan Browne show for Tipp as he attempted to keep Donegal in sight but scores from Stephen McDermott, Michael Hegarty, Colm McFadden and Devenney kept Donegal's noses in front.
Tipp were staying in touch but in one five minute period missed at least three goal chances, two of which were very clear cut. The first came from a great ball in over the top for Browne, but he took his eye off the ball allowing Donegal goalkeeper Tony Blake to collect and avert the danger. A second chance at goal came when a Browne free came back off the upright and dropped right in front of goal only for the Donegal backs to easily clear their lines. The third was even more clear-cut when the lively Browne did well to get to the goal and fisted across to Declan O'Brien, who dithered at the crucial moment allowing Blake to smother the ball.
When Donegal got their chances they were much more decisive with Devenney capitalising on bad defending to drill home on the hour. They had another chance in the 66th minute when Stephen McDermott got in on goal and unleashed a fierce shot only to see it saved brilliantly by Tipp 'keeper Philly Ryan. A third chance was converted late in the game by Roper, who got on the end of a ball from midfield in acres of space and rounded Ryan to drill home.
Donegal were home and dry by this stage and eventually ran out 2-19 to 0-15 winners. The margin of victory, however, flattered Donegal who deserved the win but may have rued their erratic shooting had Tipp had more luck in front of goal.
Filed by Barry J Whyte