Late heartbreak for hurlers in league opener

Allianz National Hurling League Division 2B (Round One)

Donegal 1-13     Roscommon 1-11

It was great to be back but that feeling was tempered by the result at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny last Sunday when Donegal scored 1-2 in injury-time to deny Roscommon an opening league win.

 Despite some encouraging signs from Johnny Keane’s men, the reality is that with tough matches ahead against Derry and Kildare, next Saturday’s clash with Mayo assumes a ‘must win’ status for Roscommon in terms of staying in Division 2B.

Roscommon looked sharper in the first quarter and Cathal Dolan was unerring from frees and blasted home a penalty in the 14th minute after a foul on Conor Mulry which gave Roscommon a 1-7 to 0-7 half-time lead.

However, Donegal should have been level as their talisman Declan Coulter was wide with a penalty in injury-time as the rain poured down.

Five minutes into the second half, after Donegal had reduced the margin to one, Roscommon were awarded a penalty of their own when Dolan was fouled by Gavin Browne but Luke White made a fine save from Dolan’s low effort.

Cathal Kenny knocked over two fine points from play to leave Roscommon three points to the good entering time added on but after a goalmouth scramble in the 71st minute Ronan McDermott goaled from close range for the home side to level the scores.

Then sub Niall Cleary and Declan Coulter were on target from long range to seal a dramatic win for the home side and leave Roscommon to make the long journey home empty handed.

Roscommon manager, Johnny Keane, was encouraged despite the result.

“That’s a game we left behind us but we had some very good displays out there today from our young lads. I thought that Sean Trundle and Jack Lohan were outstanding. We did a lot of things right and it was disappointing to let Donegal in for that goal.

“We have only done six sessions and we have a lot of work to do. The lads will learn from that but we have to be able to hang on to a lead and that was a harsh lesson today.

“The match against Mayo is a must win game for us to try and survive in this division. We hope to have Jason Kilkenny and Adam Finnerty back for that. We looked at a lot of players today. It was good to see Darren Fallon and Shane Naughton back and they will only get better.

“We are disappointed but we will pick ourselves up and we’ll be ready,” he concluded.

Things don’t get much easier for Roscommon as Mayo with Keith Higgins, Shane Boland and Cathal Freeman arrive at Dr. Hyde Park this Saturday for what will be another tough assignment.

Donegal: Luke White; Gavin Browne, Stephen Gillespie, Mark Callaghan; Christopher McDermott, Sean McVeigh, Michael O’Donoghue; Declan Coulter (0-9, 5 frees), Ciaran Matthewson; Danny Cullen, Richie Ryan, Jack O’Loughlin; Bernard Lafferty, Ronan McDermott (1-1), Gerry Gilmore. Subs: Conor O’Grady for Matthewson (55), Padraig Doherty for Donoghue (58), Ciaran Grant for Lafferty, Niall Cleary (0-1) for Ryan (68).

Roscommon: Enda Lawless; Paul Dolan, Darren Fallon, Sean Trundle; Darragh Heavey, Peter Kellehan, Eoin Coyle; Ben McGahon, Cathal Dolan (1-5, 1-0 pen, 3 frees); Oisin Kelly (0-1), Cathal Kenny (0-3), Naos Connaughton; Jack Lohan, Conor Mulry (0-1), Gearoid Egan (0-1). Subs: Conall Kennelly for G Egan (35), Cillian Egan for Kelly (44), Shane Naughton for Coyle (62), Trevor Fallon for Kenny (72).


Referee: Colm Cumming (Antrim)


Man of the Match: Declan Coulter (Donegal)