Donegal produce second-half masterclass to see off Galway
Donegal 3-12 Galway 0-11
A devastating second-half display put Donegal right back in the race for the All-Ireland title as they recovered from their Ulster final two weeks ago in some style with a comprehensive defeat of Galway.
The 2012 All-Ireland champions looked in trouble at half-time after a 21-minute scoreless spell that opened the door for Galway to overturn a four-point deficit and be level, 1-4 to 0-7.
But the placement of Michael Murphy at full-forward and the third quarter dominance of their midfield, especially Neil Gallagher, Odhran MacNiallias and interval substitute Martin McElhinney, with Ryan McHugh also lending great support, paved the way for victory.
Murphy, who had carried a knee injury into the Monaghan game, spent much of his time on the edge of the Galway square and was hugely influential as Donegal turned the screw, scoring a point, winning a free and batting down Colm McFadden's delivery for Ryan McHugh to score the insurance goal on 59 minutes for a 2-9 to 0-9 lead.
Inevitably it will lead to calls for the captain to remain in what many consider his most effective position for the rest of the Championship.
It was a big night for McFadden too who had a hand in all three goals and also helped himself to three points.
But it was Donegal's success from six successive kick-outs in the third quarter which really put pressure on Galway who folded all too easily and now extends to nine matches sequence of failing to win a game at Croke Park which dates back to the 2001 All-Ireland final.
Galway started briskly with a Danny Cummins point that had it source at the other end of the field when Cathal Sweeney intercepted Michael Murphy's early ball into Paddy McBrearty but Donegal quickly found their stride, long range points from MacNiallias and McFadden bypassing any defensive rampart Galway could mount.
It was MacNiallais' collection of a kick-out and quick transfer to McFadden that carved the opening for the first goal.
With no cover in place McFadden rounded Johnny Duane too easily and in much the same manner that he had opened up Dublin in last year's All-Ireland semi-final before threading a pass to McBrearty who stepped back inside to finish with some composure.
With a four point lead so early you would have expected Donegal to control the game, play it on their terms.
But the lethargy which affected their first half performance in the Ulster final began to creep in again.
Points from Gary Sice (free) after he had dispossessed Frank McGlynn, not a common sight, and Thomas Flynn brought Galway back into it before McBrearty tidied up a move on 14 minutes with a point that had potential for a goal but for Michael Lundy's covering to track McGlynn.
Worryingly for Donegal they didn't score again for the remainder of the half, were unable to penetrate and stripped of possession far too often. After such a good start McFadden lost the ball too many times before recovering in the second half.
Comer was always dangerous and won a free for Sice to leave three in it with Adrian Varley, Sice, from a free again, and Conroy from out near the sideline drawing them level Galway went in at the break much level, 1-4 to 0-7.
McElhinney and Anthony Thompson came in at the break and gave Donegal impetus.
Paddy McGrath was black-carded on 52 minutes but by then the Donegal defence had the measure of a disappointing Galway attack.
Substitute Christy Toye scored Donegal's third goal late on with McFadden again the provider.
Scorers - Donegal: P McBrearty 1-1, C McFadden 0-4 (1f), O MacNiallais, M Murphy (2fs) 0-3 each, R McHugh, C Toye 1-0 each, L McLoone 0-1.
Galway: G Sice 0-4 (4fs), A Varley 0-2, D Comer (f), D Cummins, P Conroy, T Flynn, S Walsh all 0-1 each.
Galway: B Donoghue; F Hanley, C Sweeney, J Duane; G Bradshaw, G O'Donnell, L Silke; F O Curraoin, T Flynn; G Sice, P Conroy, M Lundy; D Cummins, D Comer, A Varley. Subs: S Walsh for A Varley (56), P Sweeney for Conroy (56), P Og O Griofa for Cummins (63), S Denvir for Lundy (66), M Martin for Flynn (69), E Tierney for Sice (69).
Donegal: P Durcan; N McGee, E McGee, P McGrath; R McHugh, F McGlynn, E Doherty; N Gallagher, H McFadden; M McHugh, M O'Reilly, O McNiallais; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden. Subs: M McElhinney for Reilly (ht), A Thompson for E McGee (ht), Declan Walsh for McGrath (BC) (51), L McLoone for McBrearty (54), C Toye for H McFadden (67). David Walsh for C McFadden (71).
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois).