Donegal 1-17 Meath 1-15
Donegal are the Allianz Football League Division 2 champions after a hard fought two-point win over Meath in Croke Park this evening.
Meath dominated the opening proceedings of this game, racing into an eight-point lead helped by a Thomas O’Reilly goal in the 10th minute. However, Donegal chipped away at their lead and had it reduced to just one point by the time that Jamie Brennan hit the net for the Ulster champions.
Here are our quickfire conclusions from the second tier final.
1. Drab Affair In Croke Park – Let’s call a spade a spade. It was far from an entertaining game with both free-takers dominating the proceedings. Even the spirit of the crowd seemed to have died away by the 50th minute. There were long periods where neither team scored including a 14-minute gap after Jamie Brennan’s goal put Donegal two points ahead.
2. Another One That Got Away For Meath – Shane McEntee spoke during the week about Meath’s desire to close out games rather than walking away with moral defeats. Yet that is exactly what happened in Croke Park again today. They were by far the better team in the first half with a tighter defensive and more clinical finishers yet they hung off from Donegal in the second and allowed them back into the game.
3. Michael Murphy – Donegal, it seems, are still not settled on the best position for Michael Murphy. In the first half he operated mainly from midfield. Yes, he was effective in winning ball but that was pretty much the extent of it. In the second half, he was moved into the forward pack where he had a much bigger impact, making a nuisance of himself and setting up Brennan for that all-important goal.
4. Neil McGee – Aside from Murphy, there is another Donegal legend who is deserving of a mention and that is Neil McGee who, after being introduced in the 13th minute of the game, broke the record for all-time appearances by a Donegal footballer in Croke Park. A huge servant to the county.
5. Oisin Gallen – While Michael Murphy may have been awarded man-of-the-match, another player who impressed in the forwards was Oisin Gallen. The teenager scored four impressive points from play in his first senior game at Croke Park and looked incredibly at ease in possession. Donegal have unearthed serious talent during this League campaign and he is one of the names on that list.
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) March 30, 2019
6. Disallowed Goal – A huge moment in the match came shortly before half-time when Meath were denied a second goal. The excellent Bryan McMahon sent a brilliant ball into Michael Newman who finished to the back of the Donegal net. After consulting his umpires, the referee deemed that Newman was in the square when the ball was passed and it was disallowed. A decision that infuriated the Meath following both watching on television and in the stadium but it was the correct call.
7. Donegal Defence – Donegal were very reluctant to take the man-marking option in Croke Park today. They flooded the defence with bodies, especially in the first half, thus forcing Meath back out the field but there was little engagement to try and force a turnover. Instead, Meath were allowed to pick off points from distance.