THERE was late drama as Donegal came from five points down to defeat Monaghan in their Dr McKenna Cup opener in Ballybofey.
Donegal 1-12 Monaghan 0-14
By Chris McNulty at Sean MacCumhaill Park
Shaun Patton saved a Shane Carey penalty in the dying embers and also thwarted Carey’s follow-up. With 13-man Donegal leading by two, Ryan Wylie went to ground and referee Noel Mooney awarded a penalty.
Carey, who had only just converted a free, stepped up, but Patton got down to his right to make the save and got behind the follow-up. In the ensuing scramble, the ball fell to safety and a last-gasp free by Rory Beggan, the visiting goalkeeper, proved a scant consolation.
Peadar Mogan’s goal on 51 minutes gave Donegal the edge after Brendan McCole’s dismissal ten minutes beforehand threatened to derail the comeback.
Mogan riffled home to propel Donegal ahead for the first time. A long-range Michael Langan free dropped shot with Jamie Brennan contesting the falling leather. It broke invitingly and Mogan crashed past Rory Beggan to the roof of the net from close range.
Jamie Brennan almost wrapped things up 11 minutes from the end. Sent on his way by club-mate Paul Brennan, the Bundoran flier sped away, but his shot careered up and over off the top of the crossbar.
It was the second time the hosts were denied by the woodwork, while Mogan was also denied by Beggan soon after.
Donegal finished with 13 men as Langan – who was named as the Man of the Match – was sent to the sin bin just as the clocked ticked into its four added minutes.
Donegal trailed by 0-9 to 0-7 at half-time and were left cursing a glorious chance that was passed up in the 19th minute.
With the goal gaping, after Daire Ó Baoill’s superb run opened the possibilities, drawing out the goalkeeper, Rory Beggan, Eoin McGettigan palmed against the crossbar.
A goal then and Donegal would’ve been level. Thirty seconds later, a Shane Carey free had Monaghan four in front.
At one stage, Donegal were five in arrears and, just when they had got level for the first time through Langan, Brendan McCole was sent off.
The Donegal full-back was already on a caution for a first-half clash with Keith McEneney. A 44th minute rumble involing Christopher McGuinness saw the St Naul’s man collect his second booking and Donegal were down to 14.
Donegal manager Declan Bonner fielded a pretty strong line-up that included first-timers in Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí (Naomh Conaill), Conor O’Donnell (St Eunan’s) and Daniel Clarke (Naomh Colmcille).
The Donegal XV had five players – Shaun Patton, Ryan McHugh, Ó Baoill, Paul Brennan and Eoin McHugh – who started the Super 8 defeat by Mayo in August.
Jack McCarron popped over three early scores as Monaghan made hay. The Currin man’s second point arrived via a quick move invaliding Barry McGinn and Keith McEneney, whose off-load arrived perfectly for McCarron, who hadn’t to break stride as he clipped between the sticks.
After debutant Mac Ceallabhuí was turned over, Monaghan surged up with Christopher McGuinness posting a score.
Donegal subsequently fell foul of one of the new rules with Shaun Patton’s kick-out not traveling far enough before arriving in the palms of Paul Brennan. Monaghan took possession from the throw-up and Kieran Hughes hoofed over from the edge of the ‘D’ to open up a four-point lead.
A splendid Eoin McHugh point got Donegal off the mark in the fifth minute and Jamie Brennan’s delightful point kept the hosts in it.
They ought to have levelled the tie when McGettigan hit the woodwork from point-blank range and Monaghan led by five after 21 minutes.
Christopher McGuinness caught the first ‘forward mark’ of the game, but seemed momentarily confused as to what to do. His pause allowed Donegal to regroup and McGuinness settled for a point when, had he continued the momentum, a goal could have been on.
Donegal found some energy via a 45-metre Langan free. O’Donnell, another making his senior bow, was among the scorers as Donegal came back within a point.
Monaghan showed 12 changes from the team that beat Derry in their opener, with Beggan, Padraic Keenan and Colin Walshe the only of those retained by Seamus McEnaney, back for another stint as Farney manager for 2020.
McCarron’s fourth point of the first half helped Monaghan lead by two at half-time, but within six minutes of the re-start Langan punted Donegal level for the first time.
In spite of the reduction of numbers with McCole’s dismissal nine minutes into the new half, Donegal outscored the Farney 1-5 to 0-3 in the second period, but their supporters had to go through the mill in the exciting closing stages.
Donegal are back in action on Wednesday when they face Derry – managed by former Tir Chonaill boss Rory Gallagher – at Celtic Park.
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Caolan Ward, Brendan McCole, Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí; Ryan McHugh, Conor O’Donnell, Paul Brennan (0-1); Caolan McGonagle, Michael Langan (0-4, 3f); Daire Ó Baoill (0-1), Eoin McHugh (0-1), Jamie Brennan (0-3, 1f); Peadar Mogan (1-1), Daniel Clarke, Eoghan McGettigan. Subs: Andrew McClean for McGettigan (47), Ethan O’Donnell for Clarke (48), Cian Mulligan for O’Donnell and Conor Morrison for Ward (61), Aaron Deeney for Mogan (60+4).
Monaghan: Rory Beggan (0-1); Colin Walshe, Kieran Duffy, Padraic Keenan; Ryan McAnespie, Karl O’Connell (0-1), Shane Carey (0-2f,); Niall Kearns, Kieran Hughes (0-2, 1m); Dermot Malone (0-2), Jack McCarron (0-4, 2f), Robbie McAllister; Barry McGinn, Keith McEneney, Christopher McGuinness (0-2). Subs: Dessie Ward for McCarron and Darren Hughes for McGinn (both half-time), Barry McBennett for D.Hughes (41), Jason Irwin for McEneney (50), Ryan Wylie for McAllister (56).
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).Tags: