Donegal dominate Cork ahead of Valentine's Day Tenerife trip
Donegal 2-14 Cork 1-7
The driving February rain felt like a warning not to get carried away, but Donegal do have the look of a side that means business.
Rory Gallagher's men comfortably put Cork to the sword in Ballyshannon yesterday, following up a 17-point win over Down with a 10-point success that in no way flattered them.
Aside from a Cork purple patch midway through the first half, Donegal were in total control with goals in either half by Martin O'Reilly and the excellent Odhrán Mac Niallais (pictured) taking them to the top of Division 1.
"It's great to have won two. That's uncharted territory for us over the last few years. It is pleasing to have two wins on the board heading into the break," said Donegal manager Gallagher, whose side embark to Tenerife for a five-day training camp on Valentine's Day.
"We're happy now that we'll get a good bit of physical work done this week and then we're away to the training camp. The biggest thing is that we're heading away there in a good frame of mind.
"We'll have a good chance to work on our fitness and we'll have a chance to talk about tactics and it'll help with the integration too."
Donegal are still some way off being at full tilt, too, which perhaps gave their fans in the 2,250 crowd real optimism, with the likes of Colm McFadden, Karl Lacey, Christy Toye and Mark McHugh still to return.
A booming 50-metre free from Michael Murphy was the latest in that ever-growing portfolio for the Donegal captain and put his side three ahead in the 11th minute.
Two minutes later, O'Reilly combined cleverly with Eoin McHugh before dispatching his shot past League debutant Brendan O'Carroll.
Donegal had shot four wides and could have been out of sight by the end of the first quarter, when Cork suddenly found their wind.
Daniel Goulding converted three frees and, in between times, Donal Óg Hodnett smashed past Peter Boyle. Cork were back to within a point, but Donegal soon found their rhythm again.
With Mac Niallais brilliantly stroking over two points and Anthony Thompson getting up to add a brace, Donegal were 1-9 to 1-3 in front.
Eighteen minutes into the second half, they broke for a second goal. Ryan McHugh scorched his way through and the ball made its way to Mac Niallais, who made no mistake with a crisp finish.
Gallagher said: "There was good maturity and some great quality from Odhrán in particular. It was a great position to be in, six points up, after playing into a bit of a breeze in the first half."
It took Cork until the 63rd minute to score from play when Goulding ended the barren spell, almost half an hour after their previous point.
"I would not be commiserating with me, the best team won and that was the end of it," said new manager Peadar Healy.
"They dominated, they were physically stronger than us, we have no excuses. In fairness to the players, they rallied well towards the end. We missed a few goal opportunities in the first half but we have no excuses. The best team won and that was it.
"We are not as bad as what we played today and we are not good as were against Mayo. We are somewhere in between so we won't be getting carried away with last Sunday or this. We just have to pull up our socks and get ready for Roscommon now."
Donegal twice came close to a third goal in the dying minutes.
McBrearty fired against the crossbar and O'Connell saved well from Mac Niallais, and Donegal will board the plane next Sunday after the perfect opening to their League campaign.
Gallagher said: "The date that we're working towards hasn't changed - June 12 and the winners of the Fermanagh v Antrim game.
"We're out looking to win games, but we're looking to improve aspects of our game and marry that with building the squad and getting the experienced players up to speed."
Scorers - Donegal: O Mac Niallias 1-4, P McBrearty 0-4 (2fs), M O'Reilly 1-1, A Thompson 0-2, M Murphy (f), F McGlynn, C Thompson 0-1 each. Cork: D Goulding 0-5 (3fs), D Hodnett 1-0, B O'Driscoll, M Collins 0-1 each
DONEGAL - P Boyle 6; E Doherty 6, N McGee 6, E McGee 7; P McGrath 6, A Thompson 7, R McHugh 7; H McFadden 6, M Murphy 7; E McHugh 7, F McGlynn 7, C Thompson 7; O Mac Niallais 8, P McBrearty 7, M O'Reilly 7. Subs: R Kavanagh 7 for C Thompson (37, BC), L McLoone 6 for O'Reilly (53), M McElhinney 6 for N McGee (57), E Gallagher 6 for Doherty (58), N Gallagher 6 for McFadden (64), M Carroll 6 for E.McHugh (65)
CORK - B O'Connell 6; C O'Driscoll 6, J O'Sullivan 6, K Crowley 5; M Collins 6, B O'Driscoll 6, T Clancy 5; I Maguire 6, A O'Sullivan 6; R Deane 5, D Óg Hodnett 7, P Kerrigan 7; D Goulding 6, P Kelleher 6, B Hurley 5. Subs: B Daly 6 for Crowley (h/t), D O'Connor 6 for Deane (49), K O'Hanlon 6 for Hodnett (57), C O'Neill 6 for Hurley (64), Dan McEoin 6 for Goulding (64).
REF - J McQuillan (Cavan).