In-form Donegal suffered a heavy defeat against a clinical Wicklow side in Sunday’s Allianz National Hurling League Division 2B meeting at O’Donnell Park.
Donegal . . . 0-11, Wicklow . . . 2-24
With two wins each from their previous three games, both these teams knew that a victory in this one would clinch a semi-final spot.
Meath had secured a final spot with a big win over Tyrone on Saturday in Omagh, moving onto eight points and a massive score difference.
With the final round of fixtures to come next week the prize of a home semi-final was still up for grabs but there was no doubt that the winners of this clash would be very much in the driving seat for that.
Wicklow’s midfielders Luke Maloney and Diarmuid Masterson got their team off to a great start with two super points from play and Eoin McCormack quickly added a third. Liam McKinney got Donegal going with a free but McCormack and Christy Moorehouse both scored from play to make it 0-05 to 0-01 to the visitors.
Donegal keeper Luke White produced an excellent save to deny David Maloney and Liam McKinney replied with two fine points to leave just two between them. From there Wicklow went on to dominate the remainder of the first-half.
They scored seven in points in a row, two each from Moorehouse and Doyle and one apiece from Masterson, McCormack and Daniel Stauton to lead by nine, 0-12 to 0-03, in the 30th minute.
Donegal had a great chance to narrow the gap when it was 0-08 to 0-03 but Richie Ryan’s penalty was saved by Conor McNally and Gerry Gilmore’s follow-up was wide .
Late in the half Liam McKinney converted a free for his fourth point and sub Oisín Marley added Donegal’s fifth but McCormack and Doyle added two for Wicklow who led 0-14 to 0-05 at half-time.
Wicklow continued as they had left off with four points in a row at the start of the new half – Doyle with two and one each for McCormack and Staunton.
Oisín Marley and Liam McKinney replied but two from Moorehouse and one each from Sean O’Dowd and Andy O’Brien kept the Wicklow scoreboard moving.
Soon after, O’Dowd’s long dropping ball found the Donegal net. McKinney and Brian McIntyre pointed in reply but substitute Gavin Weir goaled for Wicklow to move them further clear.
The teams shared four points in the final minutes to leave it 2-24 to 0-11 to the visitors and a semi-final place secured.
Donegal will have a chance to join them if they beat Tyrone next week but a big improvement will be needed.
Donegal: Luke White; Stephen McBride, Michael Donaghue, Padraig Doherty; Brian McIntyre, Christopher McDermott, Gavin Browne; Daire O Maoileidigh, Jack O’Loughlin; Liam McKinney ( 0-08), Ronan McDermott, Conor Gartland; Richie Ryan, Gerry Gilmore, Ruairi Campbell.
Subs: Paul Nelson for Browne (11 mins), Oisín Marley (0-02) for Gartland (30 mins), Sean Ward for 0 Maoileidigh (46 mins), Ciaran Bradley (0-01) for Chris McDermott (55mins), Kevin Curran for Campbell (70mins).
Wicklow: Conor McNally; Ben Kearney, Andrew Kavanagh, Martin O Brien; Padraig Doran, John Henderson, Sam O Dowd (1-01); Luke Maloney ( 0-01), Diarmuid Masterson (0-02); Danny Staunton (0-02), Padraig Doyle (0-05), Eoin McCormack ( 0-05); Seanie Germaine, Christy Moorehouse (0-04), David Maloney (0-01).
Subs: Andy O’Brien (0-02), for Doyle (43 mins), Gavin Weir (1-00) for Henderson (50 mins), Mark Murphy (0-01) for Luke Maloney (55 mins), Mickey Lee for David Maloney (58 mins).
Referee: Kevin Brady (Louth).