Donegal progress to semis

Donegal 1-12 Kildare 0-14 (aet)

Donegal 1-12 Kildare 0-14 (aet)

Donegal scored a stunning extra-time victory over Kildare at Croke Park to qualify for their first All-Ireland SFC semi-final since 2003.

The Ulster champions looked to be on their way out when they trailed by three points in the second period of added time, but a volley of scores, including Kevin Cassidy’s late, late winner, sent them through to a last four clash with either Dublin or Tyrone.

Eoghan O’Flaherty got Kildare going with an early score, but that was quckly cancelled out when Paddy McBrearty took Kevin Cassidy’s return pass to split the posts.

Donegal went back in front through Rory Kavanagh, but they found it difficult to break down a packed Lilywhite defence in which sweeper Morgan O’Flaherty was able to pick up lots of loose ball.

After O’Flaherty had converted a free, Padraig O’Neill landed an excellent point.

They went two ahead with O’Flaherty’s third, and as Donegal built again with patience, Morgan O’Flaherty took a handful of interceptions to thwart the Ulster champions.

Donegal did craft a goal chance when Karl Lacey pushed forward to link with David Walsh, but when Mark McHugh slipped inside, he was denied by a smart Shane Connolly save.

Eamon Callaghan floated another Lilywhite score between the posts, before McHugh ended a half-hour of scoreless action for Donegal with a stoppage time score.

Kildare led by 0-5 to 0-3 at the break, and stretched the advanrtage with a long range free from O’Flaherty.

But just after a disallowed goal that would have given them a six points advantage, they found themselves pegged back level by the resurgent Tir Chonail men.

Johnny Doyle long range punt came back off a post, and was gathered by full forward Tomas O’Connor who drove to the net from close range.

But O’Connor was adjudged to have been in the square, and the score was ruled out.

Sspurrwe3d on by the let-off, Donegal rallied, and three quick-fore points from Michael Murphy, who had come in as a 28th minute substitute after injury ruled him out of the starting fifteen, Ryan Bradley and Dermot Molloy, made it 0-6 apiece on 45 minutes.

But poor service to their inside forwards Murphy and Colm McFadden frustrated Donegal’s attempts to turn a useful spell of possession into scores.

But substitute Christy Toye made a sensational entry to the action. Just seconds after replacing McFadden in the 58th minute, he slipped in behind the Kildare cover to take Frank McGlynn’s shot and beat goalkeeper Shane Connolly with a low finish, a priceless goal with his very first touch.

O’Flaherty nailed a free to end a 16 minute scoreless spell for Kildare, and as Donegal were forced back by relentless Lilywhite pressure, James Kavanagh narrowed the gap to a point with a sublime effort from wide on the left, and O’Flaherty levelled at 1-7 to 0-10 in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Kieran McGeeney freshened things up from the bench, and it was substitutes Ronan Sweeney, Alan Smith and Gary White who hit the target to ease Kildare into a 0-13 to 1-8 lead midway through extra-time.

Murphy dragged Donegal back into contention with a couple of much-needed scores, before Toye levelled in stoppage time, and there was still time for Cassidy to drill over the winner from long range.

Donegal scorers: C Toye 1-1, M Murphy 0-3 (1f), K Cassidy 0-2, K Lacey, R Kavanagh, M McHugh, R Bradley, P McBrearty, D Molloy 0-1 each.

Kildare scorers: E O’Flaherty 0-6 (4f), A Smith 0-2, E Bolton, P O’Neill, E Callaghan, J Kavanagh, G White (f), R Sweeney 0-1 each.

Kildare: S Connolly, A MacLochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen, B Flanagan, M O’Flaherty, E Bolton, J Doyle, D Flynn, P O’Neill, E O’Flaherty, E Callaghan, R Kelly, T O’Connor, J Kavanagh.

Subs: A Smith for O’Connor, O Lyons for MacLochlainn, R Sweeney for Flanagan, M Conway for O’Neill, G White for Doyle, F Dowling for Kavanagh, Doyle for E O’Flaherty, Flanagan for Kelly

Donegal: P Durcan, F McGlynn, N McGee, P McGrath, A Thompson, K Lacey, K Cassidy, N Gallagher, R Kavanagh, M McHugh, M Hegarty, R Bradley, P McBrearty, D Walsh, C McFadden.

Subs: M Murphy for McBrearty, E McGee for McGrath, M McElhinney for Gallagher, D Molloy for Hegarty, C Toye for McFadden, McFadden for Molloy, K Rafferty for McElhinney, Gallagher for Rafferty, Molloy for McFadden, McBrearty for Bradley

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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