Longford 1-6 Donegal 3-14
Donegal produced a devastating second-half attacking display to book their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies intermediate football championship final on September 26.
The North-Westerners, junior champions in 2003, were inspired after half-time as top scorer Geraldine McLaughlin led a deadly scoring spree.
Donegal ventured into Longford’s home territory in Ballymahon today and at the finish, they had secured a convincing 14-point success to set up a final showdown against Waterford.
In the process, Longford lost out at the semi-final stage for the third successive season after they were outscored by 0-4 to 2-11 in the second half.
McLaughlin secured the player of the match award after scoring 1-9, including 1-7 in the second half, as Michael Naughton’s team ran riot.
At half-time, Donegal led by just a single point, 1-3 to 1-2, and while inspirational midfielder Karen Guthrie increased the lead with the opening score of the second period, Longford hit back and looked like making a game of it.
The midlanders reeled off four unanswered points to lead by 1-6 to 1-4 with 36 minutes on the watch but Edel Quinn’s point was the last time Longford would score as Donegal went on to utterly dominate the remainder of the game.
The winners went on to hit 2-10 without reply and it was McLaughlin who kickstarted the purple patch as she landed six unanswered points.
Yvonne McMonagle, quiet until then, burst into life with a quickfire 1-1 blast and the full-forward’s 48th-minute goal ended the match as a contest.
With the breeze advantage, Donegal pushed on ruthlessly and McLaughlin crowned a majestic display with her team’s third goal in the dying minutes.
There was a suspicion of square ball as McLaughlin fisted home Guthrie’s long delivery but following a consultation, the goal was allowed.
The final result was hard to predict at the midway point as the teams were evenly matched in the first half.
Goal chances came and went at either end and it was Longford who struck first after five minutes when Sharon Treacy converted a penalty which was harshly awarded for a Diane Toner foul on Anne-Marie Bratten.
That goal gave Longford a 1-1 to 0-1 lead before McLaughlin set up Karen Feeney for Donegal’s first half goal in the 12th minute.
McLaughin reflected afterwards: “We’re really happy, so shocked that we finally got here. We went in at half-time and said that this is it, if we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it.
“Some people say it (goal) was a square ball - I don’t know!”
Donegal boss Naughton said: “It was a good team performance. We knew Longford were a tough team but we kept at it and with the breeze advantage, we knew that if we got the ball into our forwards, they would do the damage.
“Geraldine is a scoring machine and she came back from Dublin last night to be here. These girls had belief - I told them we were 60 minutes away from Croke Park.
"And every man, woman and child that plays GAA wants to play in Croke Park.”
Scorers for Longford: S Treacy 1-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), F Gettings 0-2, A.M. Bratten 0-1, E Brady 0-1, E Quinn 0-1,
Scorers for Donegal: G McLaughlin 1-9 (5f), Y McMonagle 1-2, K Feeney 1-0, E Ward 0-2 (1f), K Guthrie 0-1f.