A second-half full of purpose and intensity ensured Donegal, minus talisman Michael Murphy, recovered from a three-point half-time deficit to defeat Mayo by the minimum in an entertaining challenge match in Swinford yesterday.
The game was played to mark the official opening of the Swinford GAA club’s new pitch, which will be named in honour of Garda Robert McCallion, a former member of the club who tragically lost his life while on duty in Letterkenny three years ago. The pitch was officially opened by Padraig Carney who was known as the Flying Doctor following a series of high-profile flights back from America to play for the county he won All-Irelands with in 1950 and ’51.
After early Donegal points from Adrian Hanlon and Stephen Griffin, Mayo took the initiative when Peadar Gardiner goaled on seven minutes and points from Enda Varley and Gardiner put them clear.
Colm McFadden kept Donegal in it with two frees but a run from deep by Swinford’s Aidan Campbell, captain for the day, split the Donegal defence and he laid on the pass for Cillian O’Connor to goal.
O’Connor scored another free for Mayo before the impressive Colm McFadden registered his third and fourth frees of the match. Mayo and Donegal exchanged points at the end of the first half through Enda Varley and Martin McElhinney respectively and Mayo led 2-4 to 0-7 at the break. Both teams shuffled their packs in the second-half and made four changes. McElhinney fisted an early point for Donegal before Pat Harte drilled a penalty to the net after Danny Kirby was fouled.
But Donegal gained momentum McFadden converted a penalty after Patrick McBrearty was fouled. Despite two points from Danny Kirby and Alan Freeman in the closing stages further points from the buoyant visitors through Frank McGlynn, McFadden, McGee and McBrearty ensured Donegal snatched victory.
Scorers for Donegal: C McFadden 1-5 (1-0 pen, 5fs), M McElhinney, P McBrearty, S Griffin (1f) 0-2 each, N McGee, F McGlynn, A Hanlon 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: C O’Connor (1f), P Gardiner 1-1 each, P Harte 1-0 (pen), E Varley, D Kirby (1f) 0-2 each, A Freeman 0-1.
DONEGAL: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; A Thompson, L McCloone, D Walsh; M McElhinney, P McGee; M McHugh, A Hanlon, R Bradley; D Molloy, C McFadden, S Griffin.
Subs: M Boyle for Bradley, A McFadden forHanlon, T McKinley for McGrath, P McBrearty for Dermot Molloy.
MAYO: R Hennelly; M Walsh, S McHale, E O’Reilly; P Gardiner, D Geraghty, R Feeney; B Moran, P Harte; A Campbell, C O’Connor, M Forde; E Varley, A Freeman, J Doherty.
Subs: R O’Connor for Boyle, F Durkin for Forde, D Kirby for Doherty, K Keane for Gardiner, C O’Shea for Campbell.
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).
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