Monday 27 May 2019

Donegal recover to overhaul Meath

Donegal captain Michael Murphy. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Donegal captain Michael Murphy. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

Meath, once renowned for comebacks, fell foul of sport's love of a good twist as they were overhauled by Donegal at Croke Park in yesterday's Allianz Football League Division 2 final before an attendance of 23,644.

The Royals led by eight points after making an explosive start, and were five ahead at half-time. But a strong Donegal recovery, led by the inspirational Michael Murphy, finally wore them down in the second half.

A goal from Jamie Brennan, set up by Murphy, gave Donegal the lead for the first time with almost an hour played and they controlled the final stages to win by 1-17 to 1-15. After Mickey Newman pointed a 47th-minute '45', Meath were outscored 1-4 to 0-1 over the remainder.

Newman, unavailable last year, was a thorn in Donegal's side in the first half, helping to set up an early goal for Thomas O'Reilly as well as scoring three points and setting up another. Brendan McCole, his direct marker, lasted just 13 minutes before being replaced by the experienced Neil McGee.

In the game's curtain-raiser, Derry followed up on their promotion with an expected win in the Division 4 final, where they defeated Leitrim 0-20 to 0-16. Leitrim, who were last in Croke Park in the now extinct Tommy Murphy Cup 13 years ago, made a bright opening playing with the wind and took a 0-7 to 0-4 lead after 23 minutes.

But by the interval Derry had taken a grip on the match and six unanswered points left them holding a half-time lead, 0-10 to 0-7. Leitrim paid the price for poor shooting, hitting nine wides in the opening half, but at least they have Division 3 football to look forward to next year.

Slaughtneil's Shane McGuigan scored four points from play, while Ryan Bell also caused the Leitrim full-back line problems.

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