Derrick Lynch reports from Cusack Park
DONEGAL HAD TO withstand a staunch Clare effort before picking up the opening two points of the Allianz National Football League Division Two.
Michael Langan opened the scoring with a free he had won himself, but Clare struck back to take the lead for the only time in the first half with points from Gary Brennan and a Keelan Sexton free.
Sexton had a goal chance soon after but dragged his shot wide on the left after racing in from the right wing. This seemed to spark Donegal into life, and they hit four in a row with a brace from Ciaran Thompson along with points from Langan and Eoghan Bán Gallagher to leave them 0-5 to 0-2 in front after the opening ten minutes.
Dean Ryan and Jamie Malone combined to good effect with Ryan applying the finish to cut the gap to two, but indiscipline in the Clare defence presented Langan with a chance to finish another free which he duly converted.
The best score of the opening half came soon after as Banner captain Gary Brennan went right through the heart of the Donegal defence to split the posts, but Langan landed another free to keep his side at arm’s length by 0-7 to 0-4 with 15 minutes to go to the break.
Clare then struck two in a row through Dermot Coughlan and David Tubridy to leave just the minimum between them, with Donegal replying Jamie Brennan with a tidy finish from a tight angle.
Another brace for the home side through David Tubridy kept the pressure on Donegal, but they could not get back on level terms. A quick fire double before the break through Jason McGee and Niall O’Donnell saw Donegal in front by 0-10 to 0-8 as they headed for the dressing rooms.
Clare hit the opening three points of the second period with Tubridy (2) and Brennan on target to send them into the lead, but Donegal were quick to reply with four in a row thanks to a brace from Jamie Brennan along with a McGonagle free and a fine effort from McGee.
That left the Ulster men 0-14 to 0-11 clear inside the closing ten minutes. Gary Brennan and Gavin Cooney split the posts to leave just the minimum between them as the game approached injury time, but Hugh McFadden and McGee notched over scores to see the Donegal men leave Ennis with both points.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Langan (0-4, 4f), Jason McGee (0-3), Jamie Brennan (0-3), Ciaran Thompson (0-2), Niall O’Donnell (0-1), Eoghan Bán Gallagher (0-1), Hugh McFadden (0-1), Caolan McGonagle (0-1, 1f)
Scorers for Clare: David Tubridy (0-6, 3f), Gary Brennan (0-3), Dermot Coughlan (0-1), Dean Ryan (0-1), Keelan Sexton (0-1, 1f), Gavin Cooney (0-1).
1. Shaun Patton (Naomh Adhamhnáin)
2. Conor Morrisson (Naomh Adhamhnáin)
3. Caolan Ward (Naomh Adhamhnáin)
4. Brendan Cole (Naomh Náille)
5. Paul Brennan (Bun Dobhráin)
6. Eamonn Doherty (Naomh Adhamhnáin)
7. Ryan McHugh (Cill Chartha)
8. Hugh McFadden (Na Cealla Beaga)
9. Michael Langan (Naomh Mícheál)
10. Niall O’Donnell (Naomh Adhamhnáin)
11. Ciaran Thompson (Naomh Conaill)
12. Caolan McGonagle (Bun Crannacha)
18. Jason McGee (Cheann Fhaola)
21. Eoghan Bán Gallagher (Na Cealla Beaga)
15. Jamie Brennan (Bun Dobhráin)
14. Martin McElhinney (Naomh Micheál) for Brennan (43 mins)
7. Leo McLoone (Naomh Conaill) for McGonagle (55 mins)
19. Stephen McMenamin (Aoadh Rua) for Gallagher ( 65 mins)
20. Peadar Mogan (Naomh Naille) for Doherty (78 mins)
1. Kieran Eyres (Kildysart)
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2. Kevin Harnett (Meelick)
3. Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
4. Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown)
5. Dean Ryan (Eire Óg)
6. Aaron Fitzgerald (Eire Óg)
18. Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis)
8. Gary Brennan (Clondegad)
9. Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)
10. Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)
11. Jamie Malone (Corofin)
12. Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
13. Kieran Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown)
14. Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
15. David Tubridy (Doonbeg)
22. Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare) for Collins (47 mins)
19. Sean Collins (Cratloe) for Kieran Malone (53 mins)
16. Eamon Tubridy (Doonbeg) for Eyres ( 58 mins)
17. Darragh Bohannan (Shannon Gaels) for Jamie Malone (61 mins)
20. Gavin Cooney (Eire Óg) for Coughlan (65 mins)
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)
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