First-half goals see Donegal into Ulster ladies football final

Donegal 3-17 Monaghan 1-9

By Chris McNulty

Donegal proved too strong for Monaghan in an entertaining TG4 Ulster ladies senior football championship semi-final in Omagh.

First half goals by Eilish Ward, Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne Bonner had Donegal out of sight and they moved comfortable into Sunday-week’s final against Armagh.

By the end, they had 14 points to spare and that was without hitting top gear.

Aoife McDonnell of Donegal in action against Rosemary Courtney and Hazl Kingham of Monaghan at Healy Park, Omagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Donegal, who were minus their captain Karen Guthrie - attending her brother’s wedding - got off to the perfect start when her replacement, Ward, netted from a penalty after only four minutes.

Niamh Hegarty was fouled by Rachel McKenna and Ward made no mistake from the spot, tucking neatly past Linda Martin for an early Donegal goal.

The Monaghan ‘keeper was picking the ball from her net a second time just seven minutes later as McLaughlin showed her class.

Latching onto a ball over the top on the right-hand side, the Termon ace had only one thing on her mind. After dancing inside of her marker, McLaughlin drilled high into the net, firing to the near side past a stunned Martin.

Monaghan had levelled for a brief spell with Ellen McCarron firing over two points, but Bonner palmed home Donegal’s third goal after Martin saved from Sarah Jane McDonald.

Deirdre Foley curled over a wonderful score for the rampant Tir Chonaill and McDonald’s point late in the first half ensured that Donegal led by ten (3-6 to 0-5) at the break.

It might well have been more only for Martin getting down sharply to save from Katy Herron, who was put clear following a brilliant move.

After a somewhat tepid start to the second half, Monaghan pulled a goal back when Niamh Callan finished well. Callan was played in by a clever low hand-pass from Therese Scott and slammed home.

But Donegal scored the next seven points though, the pick of them an outside-of-the-boot effort from Roisin Friel.

Ellen McCarron stemmed the flow with a free that was her fifth point of the night but the game had long since petering out.

McDonnell closed the contest out with two monster points to give Donegal a 14-point win.

Scorers - Donegal: G McLaughlin 1-5 (5f); Y Bonner 1-2; E Ward 1-1 (1-0pen); A McDonnell 0-3; K Herron, SJ McDonald 0-2 each; D Foley, R Friel 0-1 each

Monaghan: E McCarron 0-5 (3f); N Callan 1-0 R Courtney, M Atkinson (f), T Scott (f), E Woods 0-1 each

Donegal: R McCafferty; O McCafferty, N McLaughlin, T Doherty; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, D Foley; K Herron, Y Bonner; SJ McDonald, N Hegarty, A McDonnell; B Gallagher, E Ward, G McLaughlin.

Subs: AM McGlynn for O.McCafferty (39), R Friel for Gallagher (44), Blathnaid McLaughlin for N.Hegarty (52), K Keaney for Foley (60).

Monaghan: L Martin; R McKenna, H Kingham, J Fitzpatrick; A McAnespie, S Courtney, E McAnespie; M Atkinson, C Courtney; S Coyle, N Callan, R Coyle; C McAnespie, E McCarron, T Scott.

Subs: E Woods for Coyle (52).

Referee: Brendan Rice (Down).

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