The first real competitive outing of the 2017 season brought its positives and negatives.
Talking Points from Sundays game.
A Game Of 2 Halves, Sort Of!
It’s a great cliché in Sports, it was a game of two halves. Well this was, but not in the normal sense.
Donegal dominated the opening 15 minutes, seemingly breaching the Reds rear guard at will and finding players in space 5 yards from goal twice for early majors. By the 15 minute the management had made a switch and Louth began to gain dominance and were the better team for the remainder of the half taken some lovely long range scores from Dwan and Murphy and a particularly good effort from O Hanrahan finishing after a good strong run, and Louth went into the changing rooms for the short whistle 1 point behind 2-6 to 0-11. They returned from the tunnel in Letterkenny for the start of the 2nd half and continued to dominate with Seaghan Connelly finishing to the roof of the net to raise the green flag to move Louth in front 1-13 to 2-8. That was to be the end of Louth’s “half” until stoppage time when Dwan tagged on a consolation score. Donegal managed to rattle off 15 points in the closing 20 minutes as Louth seemed to be at sea.
Louth came out and went man for man on the Donegal team with the only noticeable positional change was in the full forward line where Diarmuid Murphy operated 10-15 yards on front of Smyth & Connelly who played on the edge of the square.
It was obvious from the get go that Louth were employing the long ball tactic as from the get go every poc out from Nolan was sent long onto Dwan on the 40 and Louth scrambling to get the breaking ball. For 15 minutes Donegal moved through the middle third at ease. Then management made the switches, O Hanrahan came on as a wing forward but almost immediately went to the middle which allowed Callan to drop towards his half back line and sure up the middle alley Donegal had used up to then. This then became the launching point with Stephenson, McCormack, Ryan et al. able to deliver long ball into the forwards with Murphy, Lynch and Dwan profiting taking some lovely scores.
And this tactic continued to work until Donegal finally got to grips with it by the 15th minute of the second half. When the started to ground Dwan under poc outs. Several times the Tipp native was contesting Poc outs with Donegal jerseys just waiting underneath for the breaking ball and supplying quick ball in turn to their forward line.
Louth tried to make adjustments but to no avail as Donegal piled on and run out easy winner 2-23 to 1-14.
The men of the small ball game return home for the next two weekends in a row where Tyrone and Monaghan will visit as opposition. The games are likely to be in Darver as that’s where all national league games have been the past few seasons.