Shay Doherty was the saviour as Letterkenny Gaels won for the first time since March with a morning win over Na Rossa in the Junior A Championship.
Letterkenny Gaels 0-13 Na Rossa 1-7
The Gaels have had a wretched start to the 2017 campaign and have been hit with a spate of injuries but, after battling to a last-ditch draw with Naomh Colmcille yesterday, Sean McBrearty’s team ground out a vital win.
Doherty, who lined out for the Donegal minors this year, scored eight points in all and the youngster landed five in a row as the Gaels came from behind to win for the first time since defeating Downings in Division 3 back on March 12.
Odhrán Molloy’s goal in the opening minute of the second half helped briefly swing the pendulum in favour of Na Rossa – who saw Donegal Under-21 Christian Bonner taken away in an ambulance after sustaining a back injury – but Doherty secured a precious win for the home side.
In a deadly ten-minute spell, Doherty arched over a handful of points, including three nerveless frees.
Na Rossa did level again when John Paul McCready and Adam McHugh found the range, but Doherty, Sean McDonagh and Cormac Cannon drilled the match-winning points.
A three-point margin certainly didn’t reflect a titanic tussle in drenching conditions at Pairc na nGael.
The 11 o’clock throw-in time was to facilitate graveyard Masses in both parishes, but the game was delayed as the Na Rossa bus was late in arriving.
Na Rossa were dealt a huge blow when Bonner went to ground in agony in the 18th minute, twisting and falling awkwardly as he took possession on the left-hand sideline. After a delay of 12 minutes, the game was restarted.
Brendan O’Brien, Doherty and Conor McBrearty had set the ball rolling for Letterkenny Gaels while McBrearty smashed a goal chance into the side netting before his afternoon ended prematurely due to a hamstring ailment.
The Gaels lost Donegal U21 Shane Graham to an ankle injury in the warm-up while Mikey Harte, Ciaran Cannon and Oisin McElhinney are among those on a length absent list for those in maroon and white these days.
O’Brien and Doherty (free) stretched the Gaels’ lead before Keelin Bonner reduced the arrears for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.
Within a minute of the re-start, Molloy bombed in a goal that was the kindling for a Na Rossa comeback.
Molloy, John McDyre and Molloy again were on the mark as Na Rossa seized control, but with Doherty’s compass on the money it was the Gaels who eked the win.
Letterkenny Gaels: James Carr; Aaron Stewart, Darren Hunter, Kevin Kilkenny; Ciaran Lynch, Brian Diver, John Doran; Paddy Doherty, Brendan O’Brien (0-2); Conor Browne, Ray Quinn, Shay Doherty (0-8, 4f); Cormac Cannon (0-1), Conor McBrearty (0-1, 1f), Sean McDonagh (0-1). Sub: Cahir Doherty for McBrearty.
Na Rossa: Patrick Hanlon; Kevin McMonagle, Daniel Martin Melly, Jamie McCready; Darryl Devenney, John McDyre (0-1), Keelan Bonner (0-1); Conor McCahill, Donal Trimble; Christian Bonner, John Paul McCready (0-2, 2f), Sean McMonagle; Odhrán Molloy (1-2), John Paul Breslin, Adam McHugh (0-1). Subs: Ryan McGonagle for C.Bonner, Keelin Devenney for K.Bonner.
Referee: Val Murray (Aodh Ruadh).Tags: