Hughes haul keeps Farney flying high
MALACHY O'Rourke patrolled the soaking touchlines of Ballybofey as Jim McGuinness watched over his flock from the comforts of the press box.
Monaghan had 17 points to spare over an extremely experimental Donegal side that contained no players who played in last year's All-Ireland final. Despite the skewed scoreboard, there was still contentment expressed by the two managers.
New Monaghan boss O'Rourke saw his side coast to their second win in the McKenna Cup, as second-half goals from Keith McEneaney, Dermot Malone and Darren Hughes – not to mention six points from the excellent Kieran Hughes – gunned down the under-strength Tir Chonaill outfit.
"Donegal were obviously missing a lot of players, but we can only concentrate on ourselves and we're happy with where we are," O'Rourke said.
"We were five up in the first half and then we conceded a bad goal. It was nice to come out and pick it up for the second half. Our movement was good and we took some good scores, so overall we're pleased with today.
"We're happy with our defensive work and some of our support play was good. As the game opened up, we moved the ball better and took some very good scores.
"The main thing was the work rate and they applied themselves very well."
Two Hughes points and scores by Paul McArdle (free), Conor McManus (free) and McEneaney had the Farney side five ahead before Donegal managed to score.
When Donegal finally broke their duck in the 28th minute, they were right back in the game as Adrian Hanlon shot high to the net after a smart centre from the lively Willie Gillespie.
A minute later, Gary McFadden slotted over from 35 metres and Donegal were back to within a point.
However, Monaghan's greater experience told. Frees from McArdle and McManus gave the visitors a three-point cushion at the break and a mere 20 seconds into the second half, McEneaney corked home a majestic goal past Peter Boyle.
Donegal's attack lacked a real presence, but Monaghan piled on the points, with Hughes taking centre stage and landing some excellent scores from distance.
Ten minutes from time, Malone slotted home the second Monaghan goal after good approach work by Kieran Duffy.
Just for good measure, Monaghan added a third in the final minute with the ever-industrious Darren Hughes batting home into an empty net after a ball in from impressive substitute Malone, who scored 1-2.
McGuinness had the Donegal senior team in training yesterday before this game and was unconcerned about the heavy defeat.
"We're building it up slowly and steadily and our training will increase intensity-wise over the next three weeks," he said. "It would have been dangerous to fire them straight into a game.
"They won't take any part in the McKenna Cup. It is about focusing on our own training.
"We decided to put in as many of the U-21s and fringe players to see how they'd fare out and they've had two tough games now," McGuinness added.
Scorers – Monaghan: K Hughes 0-6 (1f), D Malone 1-2, K McEneaney 1-1, C McManus 0-4 (3f), D Hughes 1-0, P McArdle 0-2 (2f), O Coyle 0-1. Donegal: A Hanlon 1-0, S Griffin 0-2, G McFadden, W Gillespie, D Walsh 0-1 each.
Monaghan – M Keogh; R McNally, D Hughes, O Coyle; K Duffy, D Mone, C Galligan; O Lennon, D Hughes; K Hughes, P McArdle, T O'Neill; K McEneaney, C McManus, D Hahessy. Subs: D Malone for McEneaney (39), D Clerkin for Lennon (48), S McQuillan for McArdle (49), G McArdle for Duffy (60), O Duffy for McManus (62).
DONEGAL – P Boyle; K McFadden, C Cannon, T McKinley; C Gallagher, S McGowan, D Walsh; C Ward, R Wherity; S Griffin, G McFadden, D McLaughlin; J Carroll, A Hanlon, W Gillespie. Subs: M Cannon for McLaughlin (5), P Carr for McKinley (53), L Kelly for Gillespie (53); C Gibbons for Carroll (69); A O'Gara for Gallagher (69).
Ref – Cathal O'Hagan (Tyrone)