Wednesday 22 November 2017

Gallagher's new boys get the job Done' in drubbing

Donegal 3-19 Antrim 1-9

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Chris McNulty

Even with a new-look side containing five championship first-timers, Donegal managed to cruise past Antrim to reach an Ulster semi-final.

Rory Gallagher's side made light work of their opponents in a game that had the feel of a challenge match to it once Donegal got into their groove.

They could pull the experience of the likes of Patrick McBrearty Karl Lacey, Mark McHugh and Martin McElhinney off the bench, but it was an afternoon when the changed Donegal guard laid down its ambitions to keep the Tir Chonaill men among the top sides.

And once Jamie Brennan netted their opening goal in the 31st minute there was never any doubt about the result. Paddy McGrath bagged a first-ever Donegal goal and McBrearty, who didn't make the starting line-up owing to a quad injury, netted a third late in the day.

"We'd like to think that we're one of the top teams in the province and one of the top teams in the country," Gallagher said.

"It is nice to win. The reality is that we fully expected to win; we are operating out of division one, Antrim were relegated to division four and had a difficult 10 days. We didn't play as well as we would have liked but in the second half we showed some moments.

Donegal's Hughie McFadden in action against Antrim's Conor Hamill. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile
Donegal's Hughie McFadden in action against Antrim's Conor Hamill. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

"We expected to win, we have very talented footballers and that's why we operate in that division."

The first goal came just a minute after Matthew Fitzpatrick, who was cleared of a proposed 48-week ban during the week, prodded wide of the Donegal goal.

Bundoran's Brennan got on the end of a give-and-go between Michael Murphy and Micheál Carroll before finishing in style.

Antrim had an earlier goal opportunity but CJ McGourty shot wide from a similar position to Fitzpatrick.

Donegal's Ciaran Thompson in action against Antrim's Mark Sweeney. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile
Donegal's Ciaran Thompson in action against Antrim's Mark Sweeney. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

McGourty top scored for Antrim with six frees, but the Saffrons were unable to put it up to Donegal. With a massive point from Hugh McFadden and a tidy effort from Brennan, Donegal were five up at the interval.

Corner-back McGrath had scored just two points for Donegal before now, but he slotted in a 62nd-minute goal after a sweeping move involving Jason McGee, Ryan McHugh and McElhinney.

Donegal got nine different players on the scoreboard with 1-6 coming from their bench.

McBrearty's quad problem didn't seem to affect him when he came off the bench to score 1-2, netting a fine goal in added time after cutting inside to blast past the helpless Chris Kerr.

A former Footballer of the Year - Lacey - and former AllStar - Mark McHugh - were among the replacements on the mark while Michael Langan, another of the debutants, swung over a pair of excellent scores.

Antrim sub Conor Small broke through for a last-ditch goal that will hardly even have felt like a consolation for the Saffrons.

Antrim joint manager Frank Fitzpatrick said: "I suppose you are playing one of the top teams in Ireland. It's a totally different level than we are used to."

Scorers - Donegal: M Murphy 0-6 (5f), P McBrearty 1-2 (2f), J Brennan 1-1, C Thompson 0-4 (3f), P McGrath 1-0, M Langan 0-2, H McFadden, K Lacey, F McGlynn, M McHugh 0-1 each Antrim: CJ McGourty 0-6 (6f), C Small 1-0, T McCann 0-2, S Beatty 0-1

Donegal - MA McGinley 6; P McGrath 8, N McGee 7, E Gallagher 6; M O'Reilly 6, F McGlynn 7, C Ward 6; J McGee 7, M Murphy 8; M Carroll, C Thompson 7, R McHugh 6; C Mulligan 6, H McFadden 7, J Brennan 7. Subs: E McHugh 6 for Mulligan (45), K Lacey 6 for Carroll (50), P McBrearty 7 for Brennan (52), M McElhinney 6 for Thompson (57), Mark McHugh 6 for Ward (60), M Langan 6 for McGlynn (64).

Antrim - C Kerr 6; C Hamill 5, P Gallagher 6, P Healy 6; P McBride 7, D Lynch 5, P McAleer 6; S McVeigh 6, S Beatty 6; R McCann 6, M Fitzpatrick 5, M Sweeney; CJ McGourty 7, B Bradley 5, T McCann 7. Subs: K O'Boyle 5 for Fitzpatrick (35), J Dowling 6 for R.McCann (41), C Small 6 for Bradley (52), D Nugent 5 for McVeigh (57), N Delargey 5 for O'Boyle (67).

Ref - P Neilan (Roscommon)

Irish Independent

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