Sunday 23 October 2016

Donegal mow down Mourne men

Down 0-7 Donegal 3-15

Orla Bannon

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

Odhran MacNaillais, Donegal, in action against Malachy Magee, Down in Newry last night Photo: Sportsfile
Odhran MacNaillais, Donegal, in action against Malachy Magee, Down in Newry last night Photo: Sportsfile
Referee David Gough issues red cards to Eamonn McGee, Donegal, and Donal O'Hare, Down, after a late off the ball incident Photo: Sportsfile
Ryan Johnston, Down, in action against Odhran MacNaillais, Donegal Photo: Sportsfile

Donegal handed Down a humiliating beating on their return to Division One of the Allianz Football League in Newry last night, Michael Murphy giving an exhibition of dead-ball striking to give the visitors a comfortable opening-round win.

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Three second-half goals, two from Ryan McHugh and one from Patrick McBrearty, decided an embarrasingly one-sided contest which leaves Down already looking hot favourites to make a speedy return back to Division Two.

This was a humbling return to the top flight for Down, who only scored two points from play and lost Donal O'Hare to a straight red card four minutes from the end.

Murphy nailed 0-6 in first half, all from placed balls, and finished with 0-8.

If Down were in any doubt how tough life in Division One is going to be, the first half was a brutal reminder that mistakes at this level are routinely punished.

Early points from newcomer Ciaran Thompson and Patrick McBrearty, plus the first of Murphy's six first-half points, had Donegal coasting at 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after 16 minutes.

Down had one big chance to turn the tide when Ryan Johnston outsprinted Neil McGee to a poor Donegal kickout and won a penalty in the 19th minute.

McGee was sent off with a black card after tripping the pacy Mourne attacker but Donal O'Hare's tame penalty was at a nice height for Peter Boyle and the goalkeeper pushed his shot away.

Although the ball was recycled to Arthur McConville, who scored to reduce the deficit to 0-4 to 0-3, there was a sense this was a huge opportunity missed.

Donegal made them pay, dominating the middle third and scored five unanswered points before the break.

Murphy's accuracy from dead balls was unerring and great to watch. The sideline ball he converted from around the 13m line was a particular treat and put them 0-6 to 0-3 up after 25 minutes.

As if Down's night wasn't already going downhill, they suffered a huge blow when Ryan Johnston was forced off with a suspected dislocated shoulder.

Rookie Joe Murphy was also black-carded and with rumours flying before the match that Caolan Mooney had been dropped for disciplinary reasons, the Mourne panel was being stretched to the limit.

McBrearty nailed a left-footed free from distance before another brace of frees from Murphy gave the visitors a 0-9 to 0-3 interval lead.

Donal O'Hare ended a 21-minute scoring drought for Down with a 39th-minute free, but two goals in a three minute spell any hope of a fightback by the home side.

Ryan McHugh started and finished the first goal five minutes after the restart, exchanging passes with Ciaran Thompson before palming the ball into an empty net.

Thompson had a hand in the second goal for McBrearty a few minutes later, his high ball in was brilliantly caught by the Kilcar forward who buried the ball low into the corner of the net in a super finish.

Donal O'Hare landed three frees but the game was long over as a contest and Ryan McHugh fisted home his second goal 12 minutes from the end.

Sunday Indo Sport

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