Donegal Minor Ladies dug deep to hold off a determined Down challenge in their opening Ulster Championship tie in Newry this afternoon.
Down . . . 1-4, Donegal . . . 1-8
In a close affair played at the home of Saval GAA club, there was very little between these teams over the hour.
However, Donegal, thanks to some well taken scores in the first half, just had enough to open their campaign with a victory.
Aisling O’Neill of Malin top-scored for Declan McDermott’s side with 1-3, her goal coming as early as the third minute after she was set up by Ulitah Boyle.
By half time, Donegal were 1-6 to 0-4 in front with Ava Walsh, Abbie McGranaghan and Rhianna McCready also scoring important points.
Down hit back right at the start of the second half with a goal from the excellent Niamh King.
And while O’Neill sent over a good score for Donegal to put them 1-7 to 1-4 in front, the game was in the balance.
Aoibheann Randles made a fine save at a big moment in the game to deny Down a second goal.
Then Ava Walsh kicked them 1-8 to 1-4 in front going into the closing minutes with a well taken free.
It proved the final score of an entertaining game and ensures Donegal are off to the perfect start in the competition.
They play Fermanagh at home next weekend.
Down: Cara Bradley; Ellen McEvoy, Ciara McGeough, Emma McLaughlin; Maebh Napier, Bebhionn Rogan, Emily Bingham Abbott; Tara McCarron, Cara Crimmins; Aine Catney, Niamh McClory, Maria Bergin; Niamh King, Niamh McGrath, Niamh Rice.
Donegal scorers: Aisling O’Neill 1-3, Ava Walsh 0-3, Abbie McGranaghan and Rhianna McCready 0-1 each.
Donegal: Aoibheann Randles; Ellie Ward, Abigail Temple Asokuh, Amy Porter; Tara Rose Mahon, Sarah McGinley, Niamh Harkin; Ulitah Boyle, Rhiana McColgan; Cora Doherty, Eva Gallagher, Ava Walsh; Abbie McGranaghan, Aisling O’Neill, Rhianna McCready.
Subs: Alisha Gallagher for Porter (24), Louise Doherty for Mahon (42), Mia Bennett for McCready (54), Síle Ní Fhearraigh for McColgan (55), Niamh Boyle for U Boyle (56).
Referee: P Conway (Armagh).