Close call for Donegal with one point win over Roscommon

Allianz NFL Division 1

Donegal 0-16 Roscommon 2-9

A 72nd minute point from Eoin McHugh proved to be the difference between the sides, as Donegal came out of Dr. Hyde Park with their first league points, following a one-point win over Roscommon.

In a tight and tough encounter, both sides hit purple patches, with Roscommon bagging goals at key moments, only for Donegal to respond superbly.

The sides were neck and neck in the opening stages of this contest, with Donegal beginning brightly as Michael Murphy and Ciaran Thompson fired the first two points to lead 0-2 to 0-0 after just three minutes.

Fintan Cregg opened Roscommon's account with a superb point from play, but this effort was quickly cancelled out with Paddy McBrearty on target from a free.

Roscommon looked good at this stages and levelled for the first time, as Ciaráin Murtagh cut the gap to the minimum with a point from a free, before Enda Smith equallised from play.

Ciaran Thompson and Smith traded points, to leave the score at 0-4 apiece in the 21st minute, before Roscommon hit Donegal hard.

Murtagh cut through to finish the ball to the back of the net for the first time in this game, and handing the hosts the lead for the first time on a 1-4 to 0-4 score-line.

Michael Carroll and Kevin Higgins traded points, before Murtagh kicked Roscommon's fourth wide.

One of Donegal's best players in this game Eoin McHugh kicked a fine point for the visitors, before Murtagh was on target in the 30th minute to bring his tally to 1-2, and ensure a 1-6 to 0-6 score-line.

Murphy sliced a free off his right boot for Donegal's third wide, before Roscommon replied immediately from the kick-out, with Higgins firing his second point to ensure a four-point lead.

Murphy made amends for his earlier miss with a well kicked free in the 33rd minute, and although both sides had further chances before the break, particularly Roscommon; this was the final score of the half – the sides entering the dressing rooms on a 1-7 to 0-7 score-line.

Murtagh handed Roscommon a four point lead, two minutes after the restart, but it was a further 10 minutes before the hosts would score, as Donegal gained a foothold.

Ciaran Thompson, Eoghan Bán Ó Gallchóir and Paddy McBrearty all kicked fine scores from play inside a four-minute spell to cut the gap to the minimum.

Indeed Donegal had further chances with Jamie Brennan forcing a 45 metre free, and the Roscommon defence under huge pressure.

Murtagh broke Roscommon's scoring deadlock, before Kevin Higgins was substituted for the hosts – the Western Gaels midfielder a key player in much of the hosts positive game-play until his exit.

Brennan made amends for his goal miss with a fine point to reduce the gap to the minimum once again, kick-starting a magnificent scoring run for Rory Gallagher's side, which saw five unanswered scores.

Donegal could do little wrong in the final quarter, with Martin O'Reilly claiming three of the next four points from play, and Eoin McHugh also on target.

McHugh's score handing Donegal the lead for the first time since the 22nd minute, with the game just in the final quarter.

O'Reilly's third score handed Donegal a 0-15 to 1-9 lead with eight minutes remaining, but Roscommon never gave up.

Enda Smith fired wide, while Conor Devaney forced a 45, and although it came to nothing, the Kilbride clubman made amends, with a well struck goal from 13 metres to level the tie at 2-9 to 0-15 with five minutes left on the clock.

A tense closing stages followed, with Donegal keeper Mark Anthony McGinley pulling off a fine save in injury-time from a Ronan Stack effort.

At the death Eoin McHugh fired over his second point, with substitute Darach O'Connor receiving a black card late on, but Donegal claimed a hard-earned one-point win and their first league points.

DONEGAL: Mark Anthony McGinley; Caolan Ward, Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath; Ryan McHugh, Eoghan Ban Gallagher (0-1), Paul Brennan; Jason McGee, Michael Carroll (0-1); Ciaran Thompson (0-3), Martin O’Reilly (0-3), Eoin McHugh (0-3); Patrick McBrearty (0-2, 1f), Michael Murphy (0-2, 2f), Jamie Brennan (0-1). Subs: Mark McHugh for P Brennan (17); Frank McGlynn for M McHugh (HT); Darach O’Connor for McBrearty (48); Conor Gibbons for J Brennan (62); Eamonn Doherty for McGee (69); Darach O’Connor (black carded 73).

ROSCOMMON: Colm Lavin; Sean McDermott, Thomas Featherston, Niall McInerney; Ronan Stack, Sean Mullooly, John McManus; Kevin Higgins (0-2), Tadgh O’Rourke; Shane Killaran, Ciaran Murtagh (1-4, 2f), Enda Smith (0-2); Donie Smith, Fintan Cregg (0-1), Conor Devaney (1-0). Subs: Tom Corcoran for Higgins (46); Niall Kilroy for Cregg (48); Cian Connolly for D Smith (58); Gary Patterson for Murtagh (65).

REFEREE: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary)

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