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Heaney and Kelly goals spark comeback as Galway overhaul Donegal

Galway 2-8 Donegal 2-7

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9 February 2020; Johnny Heaney of Galway in action against Eoin McHugh of Donegal during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match between Donegal and Galway at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

9 February 2020; Johnny Heaney of Galway in action against Eoin McHugh of Donegal during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match between Donegal and Galway at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

9 February 2020; Johnny Heaney of Galway in action against Eoin McHugh of Donegal during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match between Donegal and Galway at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

PADRAIC Joyce believes Galway are on the right track after they clung onto a one-point advantage in Letterkenny. 

Galway were seven points down in the early stages of the second half, but hit back to claim a valuable win.

Johnny Heaney and Séan Kelly netted the goals for Galway as they turned the tables.

"It was a massive recovery, but the boys showed great character and great heart," Joyce said.

"It has been questioned in Galway before – having heart and character and had we the bottle for these big matches.

"To come to Donegal and get two points is no easy feat so hats off,

"I'm so proud of the lads and I'm so proud to be their manager. They showed really good courage there in the second half and we scored two brilliant goals and got some great scores as well."

Joyce, though, was left angered at the timekeeping of Joe McQuillan, the referee. With almost eight minutes of added time played (there were five announced), Donegal were awarded a free and a chance to level the game. However, captain Michael Murphy arched his kick right and wide.

Joyce said: "Something needs to happen with it, to be honest, because we seen it last night in Croke Park with Monaghan and again there today.

"We've had it the first day against Monaghan in the league game, we were told five minutes of injury time and there was nine and a half played.

"I know if someone goes down or whatever, that kind of stuff goes on but something needs to happen. It's costing big games and lads are training all year. If we lost that game we were probably facing a relegation battle."

Murphy slammed to the net from a penalty after Jamie Brennan was fouled. Galway goalkeeper Connor Gleeson was sin-binned and Donegal were 1-3 to 0-4 ahead at the break.

They might have been further in front by the interval. Only for the fingertips of Gleeson, Peadar Mogan would've been on target.

Brennan had an attempt cleared off the line by John Daly before Murphy registered.

Seven minutes into the second half, Ryan McHugh sent Ciaran Thompson on his way for a second Donegal goal. 2-5 to 0-4 in front, they looked home and hosed.

However, Heaney riffled in an immediate response for Galway and, ten minutes later, Kelly found the bottom corner of Shaun Patton's net for the lead.

Michael Daly was sent off in the frenetic closing stages. Donegal launched the kitchen sink but Galway, just, held on.

Joyce has been encouraged with what he has seen in the early stages of his tenure.

He said: "Yeah we are very happy. We sat down at the start of the year and said if we could four points from the first six we'd be very happy. The players are showing real desire and want to play for Galway and that's a huge thing for us.

"We know that when we play football we can be very good, but when we start messing with the ball we'll get beaten. We're delighted with how we've we played, we're delighted with the application."

Donegal thought they had levelled things up when Murphy batted over from Paul Brennan's ball in, but a square ball infringement saw the effort chalked off.

The clock ticked on and Donegal's chances came and went, leaving manager Declan Bonner frustrated by his team's collapse.

Donegal have a poor record in Letterkenny and have now won only twice in their last 16 games. The venue was far from the resining for this result, however.

"It's not a case that Galway won the match; we handed it to them," Bonner observed.

"We were seven points up and we should have kicked on. We didn't and that's the disappointing thing.

"We have to learn from it. That was a harsh lesson for a lot of those lads. Overall, we probably deserved to win. It was a difficult day for football., but we're disappointed to get nothing out of it.

"The last 20 or 25 minutes summed our performance up. We had two opportunities to draw the match at the end and we didn't take them.

"Those chances have to go over the bar. It should never have come down to that."

Donegal's next mission is against Dublin at Croke Park in two weeks' time.

It doesn't get any easier.

Scorers - Donegal: M Murphy 1-3, (1-0 pen, 1f, 1 ’45, 1m), C Thompson 1-1 (1f), J Brennan 0-2 (0-1 am), P Mogan 0-1.

Galway: S Walsh 0-4 (2f), S Kelly, J Heaney 1-0 each, R Finnerty 0-2, M Daly, D Comer 0-1 each

Donegal - S Patton 6; C Ward 6, N McGee 6, E Ban Gallagher 6; R McHugh 8, C O’Donnell 5, O McFadden-Ferry 7; C McGonagle 6, M Langan 7; E McHugh 6, P Mogan 6, P Brennan 7; C Thompson 7, M Murphy 7, J Brennan 7. Subs: N O’Donnell 6 for Mogan (35), A McClean 6 for McGonagle (half-time), D Ó Baoill 6 for E McHugh (55).

Galway - C Gleeson 5; S Kelly 7, S Mulkerrin 6, J Heaney 7; G O’Donnell 7, J Daly 7, C McDaid 5; R Steed 6e, C D'Arcy 7; F Ó Laoí 6, D Comer 7, M Daly 7; R Finnerty 7, S Walsh 8, M Boyle 6. Subs: Subs: R Ó Beoláin 6 for Ó Laoi (22), O Laoi 6 for Gleeson (32), C Campbell 6 for McDaid (35+3), R Varley 6 for Steed (half-time), P Conroy 6 for O Laoi (44)

Ref - Joe McQuillan (Cavan).

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