DONEGAL SCHOOLBOYS 3
By Harry Walsh
TWO goals in as many second half minutes from the boot of prolific Cappry Rovers striker Sean McBride paved the way for Donegal’s comfortable win at home to Sligo/Leitrim yesterday afternoon.
The hosts, under the guidance of joint managers Mark McConnell and Paul Callen, reached the All-Ireland decider in Tipperary two years ago and they’ll be looking for another good run in the competition this time around.
With further group games to come against Inishowen and Cavan/Monaghan it was important to open their account with three points and following a scoreless opening forty minutes they finally netted the goals their their overall play deserved.
On a horrendous afternoon for sport, both teams deserve credit for the way they battled their hearts out for the eighty odd minutes at the excellent LYIT facilities at Port Road, Letterkenny.
Indeed, match referee Stephen Toner felt the need to take the players off the pitch for a five minute spell midway through the first half during one particularly harsh hail shower.
With Shane Blaney and Jeaic McKelvey controlling matters in central midfield, the hosts started the game on the front foot with both Jordan Ryan and Sean McBride going close early on.
Ryan was denied by Sligo ‘keeper Thomas Foley inside the opening minute before McBride shot over after McKelvey’s clever pass had created the opening.
Peader Mogan also went close after Jack Keaney had put the Eany Celtic player clear down the left before the players sought shelter in the dressing rooms.
On their return, Donegal continued to create the better chances and they should have opened the scoring on the half hour mark. Ruadhan Feeney, who otherwise had a fine game at right back, hit his attempted back pass too short allowing McBride to race clear.
Foley dived bravely at the striker’s feet to thwart the initial danger but the ball found its way back to McBride and his first time cross was steered wide of an unguarded net by Jordan Ryan at the back post.
There was still time for Donegal captain Shane Blaney to force the Sligo keeper into a good save but the game would remain scoreless going into the break.
The hosts started the second half as they ended the first half, on the attack, and Jack Keaney dragged a shot wide of its intended target before Donegal introduced Shane McNamee in place of Ryan.
Almost immediately, McNamee’s precise ball put Keaney clear but he was unable to convert but Donegal would not have to wait too much longer for their opening score.
On 53 minutes McNamee and Blaney combined and although Foley did well to block the initial effort he was helpless as Sean McBride hammered the rebound high into the net.
Almost immediately it was 2-0, thanks to another McBride strike, and when Jeaic McKelvey powered home a shot from the edge of the box midway through the half the game was up.
Donegal emptied their bench in the last quarter as the game drew to a tame conclusion. There will be tougher challenges ahead for McConnell and Callan and their young charges but this wasn’t a bad way to open the 2014 season in what were terrible conditions.
Best for Donegal were Shane Blaney, Conor Gavigan and Conor Gavigan while the overworked defensive trio of Ruadhan Feeney, Bradley Harley and team captain John Mohan wokred hard for Sligo/Leitrim.
DONEGAL: Aaron Deeney, Patrick McColgan, Adam Byrne, Conor Gormley, Conor Gavigan, Shane Blaney, Peader Mogan, Jeaic McKelvey, Sean McBride, Jack Keaney, Jordan Ryan. Subs: Shane McNamee for Ryan (46 mins), NP McDaid for Mogan (63 mins), Danny Walsh for Keaney (70 mins) and Calvin O’Brien for McColgan (76 mins).
SLIGO/LEITRIM: Thomas Foley, Ruadhan Feeney, Jack Heaver, Bradley Harley, John Mohan, Conor Burke, Dean Carroll, Adam Curran, Ryan Walsh, Roland Anderson, Luke Tansey. Subs: Jordan Muldoon for Tansey (57 mins) and Adam Connolly for Anderson (69 mins).
REFEREE: Stephen Toner.
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