Donegal overcome Louth to stay unbeaten in Division Two

Jeaic Mac Ceallbhui goal crucial in Ballyshannon success

Donegal v Louth
Donegal v Louth Hugh McFadden tries to force the ball home in a goalmouth scramble which eventually resulted in the game's only goal PICTURE: MARGARET McLAUGHLIN (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

Allianz Football League Division Two, round five

Donegal 1-17 Louth 0-15

A SCRAPPY goal in the 52nd minute from Jeaic Mac Ceallbhui was the key score as jittery Donegal took another step towards promotion with a five-point win over relegation-threatened Louth in Ballyshannon.

The home side were leading 0-12 to 0-10 when corner-forward Daire Ó Baoill lofted a high punt into the square which was fielded by sub Hugh McFadden, who slipped the ball to Mac Ceallbhui who found the net to make it a five point game.

Louth full-back Dermot Campbell, whose slip allowed McFadden to gain possession, said he believed the Donegal man threw the ball to Mac Ceallbhui who hit the vital goal, but added that “while this was a crucial score it was not the reason why we lost to Donegal”.

Donegal saw the game out with some late points from Oisin Gallen and man-of-the-match Paddy McBrearty, who finished with a tally of 0-8.

On balance Donegal just about deserved their win in a choppy performance against a Louth side who caused problems whenever they ran at the Donegal defence – especially in the opening half.

“It was always going to be a tough match,” said Donegal boss Jim McGuinness.

“We would be disappointed with our decision-making and we made it a bit easy for them, taking the ball into contact. We were getting turned over and double transitions and unforced errors happened.

“We were much more happy with the second half display and even though we were playing against the breeze we were making better decisions and we had much more control of the game in the second half.”

Donegal settled swiftly and McBrearty opened the scoring from a free. This was added to by Gallen before Sam Mulroy opened Louth’s account with a point from play.

Donegal, who had a strong wind at their backs, had most of the play and McBrearty landed another point from a placed ball.

That set the scene for a ding- dong first half studded with some fine scores from both sides.

Louth looked dangerous when they ran at Donegal, and scored through Ciaran Keenan before McBrearty made it 0-5 to 0-2 after a pointed free and a magnificent solo effort from the sideline.

They had a chance to double that lead in the 12th minute when a superb six-man move ended with Jamie Brennan in possession on the edge of the square but he was smothered by the Louth defence.

Shane O’Donnell made it 0-6 to 0-3 with a fine long-range effort before Donegal were reduced to 14 men in the 25th minute.

Louth corner-back Donal McKenny was careering through on the Donegal goal when he was taken down by Mac Ceallbhui and referee Paddy Neilan had no hesitation in giving Mac Ceallbhui a black card.

Louth profited from his absence and a Mulroy free left just two points between the sides before Ryan Burns reduced the margin to the minimum with a fine hooked shot in the 29th minute.

Gallen stretched the home side’s lead but Conor Grimes and Burns levelled matters at 0-7 each. Donegal looked rattled but they did manage two late points from O’Donnell and a McBrearty free to leave them 0-9 to 0-7 ahead at the break.

The first four points after the break were shared among Caolan McGonagle and McBrearty for Donegal and Mulroy and McKenny for Louth. Conor Earley cut the lead to one but every time Louth looked like making a breakthrough they conceded some handy frees which McBrearty converted.

The goal that came in the 52nd minute was the key score and knocked some of the resistance out of Louth.

Donegal S Patton; M Curran, C Moore, J Mac Ceallbhui (1-0); R McHugh, C McGonagle (0-1) P Mogan; C Thompson, Michael Langan (0-1); S O’Donnell (0-2), Daire Ó Baoill; P McBrearty (0-8, 0-7 frees), O Gallen (0-4, 0-1 free), J Brennan.

Subs H McFadden for O Doherty, A Doherty (0-1) for Brennan (48), L McGlynn for Ó Baoill (59), S McMenamin for Mac Ceallbhui (70), D Mac Giolla Bride for McGonagle (70+3).

Louth N McDonnell; D McKenny (0-1), D Campbell, P Lynch; L Grey, A Williams, C McKeever; C Early (0-1), T Durnin; P Matthews, C Keenan (0-1), C Grimes (0-2); R Burns (0-2), Sam Mulroy (0-7,0-2 frees, 0-1 45, 0-1 mark), Tom Jackson.

Subs L Jackson (0-1) for Mathews (40), K McElroy for Burns (54), S Marry for T Jackson (65), N Sharkey for Williams (63), J Hughes for Keenan (70).

Referee P Neilan (Roscommon)