DONEGAL 5-15 FERMANAGH 1-10
BY GERRY MAGUIRE IN CONVOY
CLASSY Donegal full forward Colm McFadden was the star of the show as Tir Chonaill easily disposed of a weakened Fermanagh side in Convoy on Thursday night.
The lean and hungry McFadden hit 1-6 and was the fulcrum of a lively attack that often had the experimental Erne defence in tatters.
The losers main reply was some fine long range converted frees from their towering midfielder Seamus Quigley who hit 0-7 but all were from placed balls.
But they were always struggling against a much stronger and fitter Tir Chonaill outfit.
Fermanagh were minus ten regulars while Donegal had the luxury of leaving Michael Murphy and Neil McGee in reserve.
McFadden got Donegal quickly into their stride with some fine early points and he was well supported by the beavering Martin O’Reilly and the returned Leon Thompson.
Thompson showed well for possession and Darach O’Connor (still a minor) looked remarkably composed and confident.
Rory Kavanagh and Odhrán MacNiallais held the whip hand at midfield while Leo McLoone and Eamon McGee (who had an interesting tussle with Seamus Quigley) commanded the central defensive areas.
The winners were well worth their 2-10 0-4 half-time lead with the goals coming from the inevitable McFadden and midfielder MacNiallais.
Both goals were equally an endightment of a shaky Erne defence who badly lacked the leadership of ex All-Star Barry Owens and Ryan McCluskey.
But the highlight of the half was a superbly struck sideline free from Quigley who pointed into the teeth of the breeze via the post.
Substitute Mickey McAleer gave the wind assisted Ernesiders some early hope when his speculative shot was uncharacteristically fumbled by sub keeper Paul Durcan in the 37th minute.
McMaleer’s strike reduced the defecit to 2-10 1-5 and when Seamie Quigley landed another free, a comeback looked briefly on.
But McFadden added another point for Donegal and then two goals in the space of 30 seconds ended all hopes of an Erne revival.
Sub Dermot Molloy blasted home from close range and this was followed immediately by a tap in from Declan Walsh.
Impressive debutant Darach O’Connor grabbed another goal in a real second half canter for Tir Chonaill.
And Fermanagh’s Eoin Donnelly got the game’s only black card from referee Robbie O’Donnell as Jim McGuinness threw on Ciaran Bonner for his first appearance since 2010.
An easy victory for Jim McGuinness and his brand new backroom team who have loads to prove in 2014.
Donegal: M Boyle; K Lacey, E McGee, F McGlynn; T McKinley, L McLoone, D Walsh (1-0); R Kavanagh(0-1), O MacNiallais (1-1); A McFadden, M O’Reilly (0-2), L Keaney; D O’Connor (1-2), C McFadden (1-6, 3f), L Thompson (0-3). Subs used: D Molloy (1-0), C Bonner E Doherty, M Smyth, S McLaughlin, P Durcan.
Fermanagh: C Snow; C Foy, C Quigley, A Breen; D McCusker (0-1), E Donnelly, S McElrone; J Love, R O’Callaghan; A Boyle, Sean Quigley(0-1), C Jones; C O’Brien (0-1) Seamus Quiglye (0-7, 6f, 1 ‘45), P McCusker. Subs used: M McAleer (1-0), R Hyde
Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Muire)
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.