The Donegal League side pictured before their victory over Inishowen on Saturday night PICTURE: STEPHEN DOHERTY
Kevin McHugh scored a spectacular opener, created his team’s second goal, and then saw red in an action packed Oscar Traynor Cup encounter at Diamond Park, Ballyare on Saturday night.
Donegal League . . . 2
Inishowen League . . . 1
The former Finn Harps striker’s dismissal following an off the ball altercation late in the second half is a massive blow to the Donegal League.
McHugh will now almost certainly miss the return leg later this month through suspension and given the quality and experience he brings to the Donegal frontline, his second-off was undoubtedly one of this game’s big moments.
Corey Lee Bogan of the Donegal League, holds off his man at Diamond Park
He appeared to square up to an Inishowen defender and while other players then became involved, match referee Mick Lagan, after consulting with his linesman Alistair Gourley, showed McHugh a red card. Inishowen’s Christy McLaughlin was shown yellow.
With around 16 minutes of normal time remaining, and trailing 2-1, Inishowen took the game to their opponents and could so easily have forced an equaliser.
The Inishowen League side who played the Donegal League at Diamond Park, Ballyare
But Donegal deserved to win this game - even if they were glad to hear the final whistle at the finish.
After an even first half, the sides went in 0-0 - although it was Donegal who created all the chances in the opening 45 minutes. McHugh was twice denied by keeper Dylan Doherty and Daire McDaid also went close, twice in the space of 60 seconds.
Inishowen enjoyed some decent possession in that first half with James Henry really impressive at centre midfield. But they rarely threatened in attack and in Matthew Crossan at centre back, Donegal had a player who hardly put a foot wrong all night.
Crossan’s confidence on the ball led to the game’s opening goal five minutes into the second half. He picked up possession deep inside his own half and ran unchallenged into the opposition half. He combined with a team-mate before being challenge on the edge of the Inishowen box by keeper Doherty. The ball ran clear and McHugh showed real class, clipping the ball over a number of players and under the crossbar for a brilliant opener.
Seven minutes later Donegal went two ahead - McHugh’s perfectly flighted free-kick caressed to the net by McDaid.
At that stage, Inishowen looked in real trouble. But credit to them, they hit back from a set-piece of their own on 63. Matthew Byrne’s flighted delivery from the left back area picked out John Gerard McLaughlin and the big defender chested the ball home from close in.
A short time later the visitors were boosted by the dismissal of McHugh and Dillon Ruddy went closest to a second goal with a well struck effort from long range, there were no more goals.
It means Donegal will go into the second leg at Maginn Park on November 27 with a slight advantage. But they know better than most that this tie is still very much in the melting point at the half-way stage.
DONEGAL LEAGUE: Christopher O’Donnell, James Doherty, David Ward (Ryan Higgins 69), Ryan Shields, Matthew Crossan, Corey Lee Bogan, Brian Breslin, Damien Crossan (Shaun McGowan 77), Kevin McHugh, Christopher Dillon, Daire McDaid.
INISHOWEN LEAGUE: Dylan Doherty, Paul Doherty, Matthew Byrne, John Gerard McLaughlin, Thomas McMonagle, Dillon Ruddy (Dermot Doherty 85), Darren McMonagle (Conor Barrow 69), James Henry, Terence Doherty, Gavin Doherty, Christy McLaughlin (Kevin O’Loughlin 75).
REFEREE: Mick Lagan.
ASSISTANTS: Patrick Martin, Alistair Gourley.
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