It took a late Paddy McNulty goal to seal the title against Galway side in a low scoring final at Connolly Park, in Collooney, Sligo

The former Sean MacCumhaills and Donegal footballer made no mistake when he was picked out by his midfield partner Benny Boyle with a super diagonal 40 metre pass on the hour mark. Donegal trailed by two points, 0-5 to 0-7, at the time after twice trailing the Tribesmen by three points in the second period.

Donegal, with McNulty and Boyle in the middle of the park, dominated for most of the opening half hour. Due to wayward shooting and tenacious last gasp defending by the Connacht side’s rearguard, Donegal found themselves behind by a point.  

Galway led 0-3 to 0-2 with Donegal posting five wides to Galway’s three. Stephen Coyle proved a handful for Galway in the first half and kicked Donegal’s two points, the first from a mark and the second from a close in free.

Coyle also had a great chance of a goal denied by a diving save from Galway corner-back Martin Cullinane. Michael Costelloe scored two of the Galway first half points, both from placed balls and Jamie O’Driscoll hit the third on the half hour mark.

Both teams had chances of scores on the resumption before Galway opened the scoring 12 minutes into the new half when Malt Ingles polished off a sweeping move with a brilliant point.

When Pat Joe Fahy quickly added another Galway, the margin was three points for the first time with Galway in front.

Stephen Coyle finally got Donegal on the board in the second period. The St Michael’s sharpshooter, who had a fine game, split the post from 40 metres, way out on the left hand side.

The tigerish Fahy responded for Galway shortly after to restore the Westerner’s three points advantage with under a quarter hour to play.

Donegal finally got their game going and Doalty Boyle set up McNulty for a good point. This was followed by a super long range strike from Benny Boyle, to cut the Galway lead to one with the clock ticking on the hour mark.

Less than a minute later the Boyle, McNulty combination struck again for the clinching three-pointer. Donegal defended frantically in the seven minutes of injury time added by referee John Gilmartin. It was a smash-and-grab victory in the end but one Donegal, for their never say die attitude, probably deserved.

Donegal had a lot of big performances all over the park. Paddy McNulty and Benny Boyle dominated most of the first half in the middle of the field. And came good late on in the second half to play huge roles in the win.

Sean McDaid, the team captain played a sweeping role and covered all over the pitch was another to shine and was named man of the match afterwards.

Stephen Coyle was a good target man at full and in defence the ageless Charlie Doherty, Conor McShane and Paddy Joe Doohan did not give an inch in the full-back line. Seamus Hegarty, Patrick Gallagher and Martin Donaghy also gave very little away in the half line of the defence. 

There was a poignant moment before the game when a minute’s silence was observed for Donegal teammates Charlie Gallagher and Martin Gillespie and Frank Heavron of Galway who passed to their eternal reward in the last year. 

Donegal scorers: Paddy McNulty 1-1; Stephen Coyle 0-3, 1m, 2f; Benny Boyle 0-1.

Galway scorers: Michael Costello 0-3; Pat Joe Fahy 0-2,1f; Jamie O’Driscoll, Malt Ingles, Padraig De Paor 0-1 each.

Donegal: Cathal Gallagher; Charlie Doherty, Conor McShane, Paddy Joe Doohan; Martin Donaghy, Patrick Gallagher, Seamus Hegarty; Benny Boyle, Paddy McNulty; Eunan Keavney, Brian McLaughlin, Benny Quinn; Gerard McBrearty, Stephen Coyle, Sean McDaid. Subs (rolling): Paul Gallagher, Kerry Ryan, Nicky McGarrigle, Doalty Boyle, Liam McGroarty, Michael Canning, David McShane.

Galway: Damian Sheridan; Martin Cullinane, Stephen Kelly, Larry Kenny; Shay Connelly, Sean Kenny, Daniel King; Seamus O’Donnell, Adrian Whyte;  Paul Fitzmaurice, Michael Costello, Jamie O Driscoll; Steven Joyce, Derwin Costello, John Slattery. Subs: Malt Ingles, David Ignore, Thomas Diskin, Colm McGovern, Pat Joe Fahy, Pat Cunningham.

Referee: John Gilmartin (Sligo) 

 

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