Donegal 2-11 Monaghan 0-10

Updated: Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 18:53 | Comments

Colm McFadden was among the goalscorers  for Donegal
Colm McFadden was among the goalscorers for Donegal


Donegal moved back to the top of Allianz FL Division 2 as they defeated Monaghan 2-11 to 0-10 in this repeat of last year's Ulster final. 

Goals from Odhrán Mac Niallais (seven minutes) and Colm McFadden (17) were the difference between the sides at the break in Letterkenny, with Donegal leading 2-04 to 0-04. 

That gap was maintained despite the best efforts of Monaghan's Conor McManus and Jack McCarron, and Mac Niallais wrapped up the win late on with his third point. 

Michael Murphy and McFadden missed early scoring chances before McFadden won a fourth minute free which he pointed himself, adding to the 2-07 he accumulated in Donegal’s opening two league games.

Donegal pressed home their early advantage when Ryan McHugh and Murphy combined to set up a fine goal finish from man-of-the-match Mac Niallais.

The roving McManus replied with a free for Monaghan, but Donegal continued to look the better side with local boy Rory Kavanagh pointing from play on his home pitch.

McManus right-footed his second point, this time on the run, to close the gap to 1-02 to 0-02 - only for Donegal, with their full-forward line dominating, to conjure up their second goal.

After Paul Finlay dropped a point attempt short into Paul Durcan’s hands, Donegal quickly worked the ball downfield. Mark McHugh found Dermot Molloy who turned, cut inside and fisted across from the inrushing McFadden to knock the ball into the net.

Mac Niallais soon matched McFadden’s 1-01 haul, although a concern for Jim McGuinness would have Donegal’s tally of six wides with Murphy - playing in a deeper role - guilty of some wayward shooting.

With the wind picking up, scores were few and far between and Donegal had to scrap hard for possession before midfielder Martin McElhinney made it 2-04 to 0-02.

Monaghan countered with McManus’ second point from play and the corner forward added his second free before the half-time whistle.

Dick Clerkin and Karl O’Donnell were introduced for the Farney men on the restart, but Donegal grabbed the opening score of the second half through Mac Niallais.

Young Donegal substitute Darach O’Connor also made an immediate impact, playing in Leo McLoone who missed a goal-scoring opportunity with goalkeeper Rory Beggan doing well to narrow the angle.

Monaghan were beginning to muscle in on Durcan’s kick-outs and back-to-back points from defender Fintan Kelly and Jack McCarron gave them some momentum at 2-05 to 0-06 down.

However, Donegal always seemed to have the answers. They replied with a McFadden point from play after full-back Neil McGee briefly joined the attack, and Murphy thumped home a long range free to stretch the lead to four points.

That margin was maintained as McBrearty cancelled out a McCarron free, while Donegal stopper Durcan denied Dermot Malone as the visitors hunted for a goal that never came.

The Tir Chonaill men were in sight of the finish line as McBrearty made it 2-09 to 0-07, but corner back Karl Lacey had to be alert to block Dermot Malone’s right-footed shot on the line.

Monaghan’s challenge petered out though as their wides total increased to 13. They did rattle off late scores through Beggan (‘45’), substitute Dessie Mone and McManus (free).

But Donegal ran out comfortable winners, completing a workmanlike display and their third victory of the league run with final points from substitute Declan Walsh and Mac Niallais.

DONEGAL: Paul Durcan; Karl Lacey, Neil McGee, Ryan McHugh; Frank McGlynn, Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson; Rory Kavanagh (0-01), Martin McElhinney (0-01); Mark McHugh, Christy Toye, Odhrán Mac Niallais (1-03); Colm McFadden (1-02, 0-1f), Michael Murphy (0-01, 0-01f), Dermot Molloy.

Subs: Paddy McBrearty (0-02) for Molloy, Darach O’Connor for Toye, Neil Gallagher for Kavanagh (all 41 mins), Martin O’Reilly for McElhinney (63), Declan Walsh (0-01) for McGlynn (69).

MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan (0-01, 0-01 ‘45’); Ryan Wylie, Drew Wylie, Fintan Kelly (0-01); Colin Walshe, Kieran Hughes, Conor Boyle; Gavin Doogan, Paul Finlay; Thomas Kerr, Chris McGuinness, Padraic Keenan; Dermot Malone, Jack McCarron (0-02, 0-01f), Conor McManus (0-05, 0-03f).

Subs: Patrick Donaghy for Kerr (26 mins), Dick Clerkin for Finlay, Karl O’Donnell for Keenan (both half-time), Dessie Mone (0-01) for Boyle (42), Vinny Corey for R Wylie (51).

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

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