Donegal edge dour contest

Donegal 0-13 Clare 1-7

Donegal 0-13 Clare 1-7

Donegal did just enough to see off Clare in an uninspiring All-Ireland SFC second round qualifier at Ballybofey tonight.

Ahead 0-9 to 1-3 at half time, three early second-half points from Colm McFadden, Michael Murphy and Leo McLoone had the Tír Chonaill men cruising.

But yellow cards and stoppages blighted the remainder. Christy Toye was stretchered off and Clare’s David Tubridy had a goal disallowed.

Tubridy’s 19th-minute penalty had given Clare some hope, however points from Murphy, Toye and McFadden saw Donegal regain control of proceedings.

McFadden and Murphy both finished with 0-4 tallies but there was little for the home supporters to shout about as this talented Donegal side failed to impress for the second week running at MacCumhaill Park.

The post-match celebrations were also dampened by the suspected Achilles injury which midfielder Toye picked up in the second half.

The omens were good for John Joe Doherty’s men as they burst into an early 0-3 to 0-0 lead with two players who were recalled to the starting line-up, McFadden (0-2) and Barry Dunnion, both angling over points.

David Tubridy kicked a free for Clare’s fifth-minute opener, but Donegal were not under too much pressure from the visitors, who fell 0-5 to 0-1 after points from free-taker Murphy.

Clare threatened to turn the game on its head when Enda Coughlan scored a point from play and a foul by Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan on the advancing Gary Brennan, who was following up on a ball in from Tubridy, resulted in a penalty award.

Durcan paid the price for his error of judgement when he was replaced by Michael Boyle at half-time. Tubridy tucked the penalty away sweetly, only for Donegal to respond strongly before the break.

Murphy, Toye and McFadden hit a string of points as the Tír Chonaill men recovered the concession of that goal to move three points clear for half-time.

With the conditions getting worse, the second half was ironically something of a damp squib. The home side looked set to power clear on the scoreboard when they opened the second half with three quick-fire points.

McFadden, Murphy (free) and centre-forward McLoone all raised white flags, with McLoone’s effort bouncing over off the bar.

However, a combination of stoppages, yellow cards and injuries hampered Donegal as they tried to find an extra gear or two and put Clare to the sword.

Clare had tried to get the throw-in time for the game brought forward, in an attempt to get more supporters to travel north, and Frank Doherty’s men showed their resilience as they kept themselves in the running.

They closed the gap to three points by the finish and had Tubridy not had a goal disallowed, who knows what might have happened? Donegal would probably have done enough to make it through to the third round, either way, having had the better of a decidedly disappointing second half.

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