Dublin have too much for Donegal
By Matthew Hurley at Kingspan Breffni Park
Dublin are the joint winners of the Allianz Football League as they beat a stubborn Donegal side in Cavan tonight. The Dubs’ would’ve wanted to win their first League crown outright since 2018, but because of Kerry’s win over Tyrone earlier, they have to settle for a joint victory.
Declan Bonner’s side did put it up to the All-Ireland Champions for large parts of this game, in fact, they were leading up to 25th minute, until Paddy Small’s goal set the favourites on route to victory.
The big positive for the Ulster Finalists was that they scored the same amount from play as Dublin (1-11), which they’ll have to be proud of.
With main man Michael Murphy not available, the Ulster outfit were forced to play slow cautious build up play, which worked in the first half to some extent, but once Dublin pushed up on Donegal’s kick outs, possession became a lot harder to retain.
Con O’Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny and most notably Paddy Small were on song for the All-Conquering Dubs, as they scored 1-8 between them either from play or a mark.
Looking at the game, it had the feeling Dublin were still in about 3rd gear, which is the scary thing for the rest of the country.
They could’ve beat Donegal by a lot more if they wanted to, a bit like Kerry earlier on, but the Champions seem to be taking the shrewd approach as they aim to peek for August time.
There were some positives for Bonner going into their Ulster Championship clash with Down, for one thing, they had 7 different scorers against the best team on the land, including Paddy McBrearty.
With Murphy’s return from a hamstring injury still unknown, the Kilcar hotshot will be an important component in the Donegal forward line in their quest to win back the Anglo-Celt Cup.
Eoghan McGettigan came on and bagged 1-1, which was also encouraging and with Jamie Brennan and possibly Murphy to return, the more consistent scorers they have, the better chance they’ll have of even getting to the All-Ireland Final.
For now though, the focus will be on their respective championship meetings with Down and Wexford/Wicklow.
For Dublin, you’d imagine they could afford to rotate players for the next few weeks, given their competition.
For Donegal however, a critical few weeks lie ahead, which could include a meeting with old foes’ Tyrone and Monaghan, where they will hope to come out the end of that with a Croke Park appearance.
Scorers for Dublin: C Costello (0-6, 5 frees, 1 ‘45’), P Small (1-3, 1 mark), C O’Callaghan (0-3), C Kilkenny (0-2), S McMahon, B Fenton, B Howard, A Byrne (0-1 each).
Scorers for Donegal: P McBrearty (0-6, 2 frees, 1 mark), E McGettigan (1-1), C McGonagle and M Langan (0-2 each), B McCole, N O’Donnell, O’MacNiallais (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: E Comerford; M Fitzsimons, D Byrne, S McMahon; J McCarthy, B Howard, E Murchan; B Fenton, P O’Cofaigh-Byrne; P Small, C Kilkenny, N Scully; C Basquel, C O’Callaghan, C Costello.
Subs: E Lowndes for Murchan (HT), S Bugler for Basquel (50 mins), T Lahiff for O’Cofaigh Byrne, A Byrne for Scully (both 55 mins), P McMahon for Fitzsimons, C McHugh for Kilkenny (both 60 mins), S Carthy for Small (67 mins).
DONEGAL: S Patton; E McHugh, S McMenamin, B McCole; E O’Donnell, R McHugh, O McFadden-Ferry; H McFadden, C McGonagle; C Thompson, O MacNiallais, N O’Donnell; P McBrearty, M Langan, O Gallen.
Subs: C O’Donnell for MacNiallais (29 mins), C Ward for McMenamin (HT), E McGettigan for Gallen (55 mins), D O’Baoill for N O’Donnell, J McGee for H McFadden (both 57 mins), T McClenaghan for E McHugh (59 mins).