Cassidy on target to help dust off Donegal cobwebs
Donegal were slow starters in their first league game following relegation from the top flight last season against Westmeath at Cusack Park yesterday. It took all of 17 minutes to register their opening score from a Michael Murphy free but by then the home side had five points on the board.
The Lake County started without regulars Kieran Gavin and Francis Boyle through injury, with Damien Healy returning to right full-back and Ger Egan making his debut at right half-back. Karl Lacey replaced Edward Kelly in the half-forward line for Donegal.
Denis Glennon had the opening score after 28 seconds and added two more in the first 15 minutes, with Gavin Hoey and Paul Greville also on target. However, Donegal replied with four unanswered points, with Glennon and Colm McFadden exchanging scores at opposite ends to leave the home side 0-6 to 0-5 ahead by half-time.
Donegal captain Kevin Cassidy turned the game on its head when he blasted the ball to the net three minutes after the restart. Glennon went off with a shoulder injury but points by Adrian Hanlon, McFadden, David Walsh and two Murphy frees kept Donegal on course.
Glennon reappeared and fisted a point, while substitute Ronan Doolan sent over Westmeath's last score of the game. Two points from frees in added-time from McFadden secured a first win of the new campaign for the visitors.
Donegal manager John Joe Doherty paid tribute to his side, whom he said did enough in the opening half to stay in the game. "Westmeath were strong out of the blocks... we hardly deserved to be within a point of them by half-time," Doherty said. "By hanging in there were gave ourselves a fighting chance.
"I think when we got the goal after the restart the heads dropped a bit in Westmeath. Coming down here and getting a win against any Leinster team is great because they have their own style of physical play. We didn't cope too well with it at the start but we came to grips with it in the second half."
Westmeath manager Brendan Hackett, after his first league game in charge, added: "Any time you lose you are disappointed. I also have to be realistic, we had three training sessions before that match and that was this team's first time playing together."
Scorers -- Donegal: C McFadden 0-6 (4f), K Cassidy 1-0, M Murphy 0-3 (2f, 43), A Hanlon 0-2, C Dunne, D Walsh 0-1 each. Westmeath: D Glennon 0-5 (1f), P Greville 0-2 (2f), G Hoey, R Doolan 0-1 each.
Donegal -- P Durcan; J Keeney, N McGee, P McDaid; O Waide, F McGlynn, K Cassidy; F McNulty, N Gallagher; K Lacey, D Walsh, L McLoone; A Hanlon, C McFadden, M Murphy. Subs: C Dunne for McDaid (22), S Griffin McLoone (32), A Thompson for O Waide (43), B Monaghan for McNulty (53).
Westmeath -- G Connaughton; D Healy, M Ennis, J Gaffey; G Egan, D O'Donoghue, D Harte; D Duffy, S Bracken; T Warburton, P Greville, J Smyth; G Hoey, D Glennon, C Lynam. Subs: A Finan for Warburton (31), P Bannon for D Glennon (43), W Murtagh for Gaffey (63), R Doolan for Bracken (65) D Glennon for Hoey.
Ref -- C Reilly (Meath).