By Conor McKenna
Donegal were relegated to Division 3A of the Allianz hurling league, after a disappointing 2-10 to 0-14 defeat against Warwickshire, played out in Pearce Park, Longford on Saturday.
This defeat will really hurt Donegal, as they were in cruise control in the first half and should have been very far ahead at half time, but they ended up losing the match.
They were far to open at the back and Warwickshire cut through them on the counter attack for crucial scores that went a long way to deciding the outcome of the match.
The main basic goal for every side in a league or championship campaign is to avoid relegation at all costs and Donegal have failed to do so, so from that point of view it has been a hugely disappointing league campaign for the north-west county.
Donegal will compete in the Christy Ring Cup come championship time and much better performances are required if Donegal are to survive in that campaign.
Donegal registered two early scores and at this stage it looked as if it would be a routine win for Mickey McCann’s charges.
Points from Jack O’Loughlin and Declan Coulter gave Donegal a two point lead, before Willie Allen opened Warwickshire’s account with a place ball effort.
Donegal added the next four scores courtesy of Lee Henderson (2), Kevin Kealy and Jack O’Loughlin to open up a five point lead and momentum was very much with Donegal at this juncture.
A close range point from Ciaran Mathewson in the 19th minute gave Donegal a six point lead and it was really a question of how much Donegal would win by at this stage, but Donegal did not push on from this stage at all.
Allen and Henderson traded scores, but points from Henderson and Niall Kennedy reduced the deficit to four, with Donegal holding a 0-8 to 0-4 lead at half time, which was fully merited on the balance of play.
Warwickshire had a dream start to the second half, as Kelvin Magee found the back of the net, after Willie Allen mishit a free and Magee reacted quickest to reduce the gap to a single point.
A “65” from John Collins levelled the tie and it was tit for tat right up until the 53rd minute, when Warwickshire found the net for a second time.
Kelvin Magee found the back of the net after a pass from Niall Kennedy and Warwickshire were three points up heading into the quarter final as Donegal stared relegation in the face.
Points from Declan Coulter and Sean McVeigh reduced the gap to one and Donegal would have been confident of getting something from the match.
Warwickshire added the next two points though to restore their three point lead, before two Declan Coulter points left it as a one point game late on.
A free from Willie Allen was the final score of the game, as his side secured safety with a two point win which was just about deserved.
SCORERS - Warwickshire: W Allen (5f) 0-7, K Magee 1-1, E McCabe 1-0, N Kennedy and J Collins (1 “65”) 0-1 each.
Donegal: D Coulter (2f) 0-4, L Henderson (2f) 0-3, C Mathewson and J O’Loughlin 0-2 each, K Kealy ,J Boyle and S McVeigh 0-1 each.
WARWICKSHIRE - Phil Crean; Tom Kelly, Dean Bruen, Kieran Meaney;
Michael O'Regan, John Collins, Peadar Scally; Robert Curley, Daire
King; Niall Kennedy, Willie Allen, Ian Dwyer; Emmet McCabe, Darren
O'Neill, Kelvin Magee.
Subs: Ronan O’Donoghue for Kennedy (70).
DONEGAL – Paul Burns; Padraig Doherty, Christopher McDermott, Mark
Callaghan; Jack O'Loughlin, Gavin Browne, Stephen Gillespie; Danny
Cullen, Joe Boyle; Lee Henderson, Sean McVeigh, Ronan McDermott; Kevin
Kealy, Declan Coulter, Ciaran Mathewson.
Subs: Ciaran Finn for Kealy (h-t).
REFEREE - Aidan Ferguson (Fermanagh)
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.