Two goals – both of them of the avoidable variety – in the first half condemned Donegal ladies to a defeat by Dublin in their Lild National League opener at O’Donnell Park.
Donegal 0-7 Dublin 2-5
Niamh McEvoy and Rebecca McDonnell netted for the the All-Ireland champions as they took a low-key win.
New-look Donegal never recovered from those concessions, but it wasn’t a day that will have left the new management team of Damian Devaney and Maxi Curran with a great deal of concern.
For the most part, Donegal – with the exception of the goals – defended well – while the likes of Geraldine McLaughlin, Deirdre Foley, Therese McCafferty and Roisin Friel are yet to return.
Karen Guthrie carried the can for Donegal with five points, but it wasn’t enough to inspire a comeback in the second half.
Dublin boss Mike Bohan began with seven players from the All-Ireland winning team of 2017, as Ciara Trant, Martha Byrne, Niamh Collins, Lauren Magee, Carla Rowe, Lyndsey Davey and Niamh McEvoy all in from the off.
Both sides had to work extremely hard for scores in a congested, lively and yet low-scoring opening.
Laura Davey hit the first point of the game in the eighth minute, but the Dubs got a real shot in the arm with a goal out of nothing in the 16th minute.
McEvoy’s dropping ball caught out the Donegal ‘keeper Laura Gallagher and the Glenswilly woman was left sprawled in agony as the green flag was hoisted.
It got even worse for Donegal five minutes before the break when McDonnell, just a few moments after being sent into the fray, tucked home to an unguarded net after the Tir Chonaill rearguard failed to clear their lines from a messy scramble.
Donegal might have been in for a goal after just 90 seconds but Sarah Jane McDonald just couldn’t stretch to get a connection on a low delivery from Karen Guthrie.
It was captain Guthrie who opened the Donegal account after 18 minutes, tapping over a close-range free after Bridget Gallagher was hauled down.
A second Guthrie free reduced the arrears, but a free from Carla Rowe had Dublin six in front – 2-2 to 0-2 – at the changeover.
With the likes of Olive McCafferty, Anna Marie McGlynn and McDonald all handed a start from a new-look Donegal squad that was still without the talismanic Geraldine McLaughlin. Donegal have added considerably and their panel included Republic of Ireland soccer internationals Ciara Grant and Amy Boyle-Carr.
Grant appeared as a first-half replacement while Glenties teenager Boyle-Carr – who was away in Portugal with the Irish seniors for ten days until earlier this week – came in for Grant for the final quarter.
Donegal were kept at arm’s length as Carla Rowe, Eabha Rutledge and Oonagh Whyte maintained Dublin’s advantage.
Although Guthrie kept the home side in check, Donegal – in their first game under the management of Maxi Curran and Damian Devaney – couldn’t quite get close enough to raise a panic.
Donegal: Laura Gallagher; Treasa Doherty, Nicole McLaughlin, Olive McCafferty; Anna Marie McGlynn, Ciara Hegarty, Aoife McDonnell; Katy Herron, Emer Gallagher; Karen Guthrie (0-5, 3f), Niamh Hegarty, Blathnaid McLaughlin; Bridget Gallagher, Yvonne Bonner (0-2, 1f), Sarah Jane McDonald. Subs: Ciara Grant for B.Gallagher (28), Eilish Ward for McDonald (45), Amy Boyle-Carr for Grant (48), Grainne Houston for McCafferty (53).
Dublin: Ciara Trant; Martha Byrne, Katie Murray, Laura McGinley; Leah Caffrey, Muireann Ni Scanaill, Niamh Collins; Lauren Magee, Olsen Carey; Carla Rowe (0-2f), Lyndsey Davey (0-1), Eabha Rutledge (0-1); Sarah McCaffrey, Niamh McEvoy (1-0), Oonagh White (0-1). Subs: Rebecca McDonnell (1-0) for McCarthy (20), Aoife Kane for Ni Scanaill (39), Nicole Owens for Rowe (39), Danielle Lawless for McGinley (45), Lucy Collins for Magee (48), Sinead Ahern for Whyte (50), Emily Flanagan for Murray (50), Hannah O’Neill for McDonnell (53), Julia Buckley for Rutledge (57), Kate Fitzgibbon for McEvoy (57).
Referee: Gerry Carmody (Roscommon)