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Report: Last-gasp point seals Donegal’s place in League semi-final

Eamon McGee, Donegal, in action against Kevin McLoughlin, Mayo.

Eamon McGee, Donegal, in action against Kevin McLoughlin, Mayo.

MAYO 0-12 DONEGAL 1-09

FROM CHRIS MCNULTY IN CASTLEBAR

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STEPHEN Griffin’s injury-time point fired Donegal into a National League semi-final against Cork as Donegal snatched a draw from defeat’s jaws against Mayo in Castlebar.

Mayo were holding on by the skin of their teeth having kicked nine second-half wides when Griffin pounced. In his first Donegal appearance in 27 months, Griffin slotted over after a patient build-up.

In a fiercly-contested affair in which the 12,304 attendance saw 10 bookings, three black cards and a sending off, Donegal were ahead at the break thanks to Patrick McBrearty’s 19th minute goal.

Frank McGlynn and Martin O’Reilly played a neat give-and-go before McBrearty riffled to the top corner.

In the absence of Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher it was McBrearty and Odhrán MacNiallais who carried the can for Donegal, MacNiallais on the mark with three fine first-half points and McBrearty ending with 1-3.

At half-time, with the pulses racing, Mayo were back to within a point as Moran, Donal Vaughan and Aidan O’Shea ate into Donegal’s advantage.

It took Donegal 19 second-half minutes to add to their tally, Colm McFadden breaking their duck.

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Michael Conroy and McLoughlin had Mayo two in front, but a quick-fire McBrearty brace had the scales balanced heading into the final ten minutes.

Mayo missed a glut of chances, but Kevin McLoughlin clipped over a free to put them in front. With Donal Vaughan sent off – black carded having already been booked – the nerves whistled around the 12,304 attendance at a boisterous Elvery’s MacHale Park.

Just when it seemed as if Donegal would miss out, Griffin sailed over after the Gaoth Dobhair trio, the brothers McGee and MacNiallais, worked the ball his way.

MAYO: Kenneth O’Malley; Brendan Harrison, Kevin Keane, Keith Higgans; Lee Keegan, Com Boyle, Donal Vaughan (0-1); Barry Moran (0-3), Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLaughlin (0-3, 1f), Aidan O’Shea (0-1), Jason Doherty (0-2, 2f); Mark Ronaldson, Danny Kirby, Diarmaid O’Connor (0-1). Subs: Michael Conroy (0-1) for Ronaldson (half-time), Stephen Coen for Harrison (45 mins), Andy Moran for Kirby (55 mins), Patrick Durcan for Boyle (65 mins), Neil Douglas for McLoughlin (70 mins), Michael Hall for O’Connor (black card, 70 mins).

DONEGAL: Michael Boyle; Neil McGee, Eamonn Doherty, Paddy McGrath; Eamon McGee; Karl Lacey, Ryan McHugh; Odhrán MacNiallais (0-3), Hugh McFadden; Martin McElhinney (0-1), Christy Toye, Frank McGlynn; Colm McFadden (0-1), Patrick McBrearty (1-3, 1f), Martin O’Reilly. Subs: Ciaran McGinley for Toye (42 mins), Anthony Thompson for Doherty (42 mins), Mark McHugh for H.McFadden (black card, 48 mins), Stephen Griffin (0-1) for McGinley (59 mins).

REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath).

SEE MONDAY’S DONEGAL NEWS FOR FULL COVERAGE 

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