DONEGAL WILL FACE Cork in the semi-finals of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship after an absorbing win over Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday.
Jim McGuinness’ side survived a late Kingdom fightback to triumph 1-12 to 1-10.
Following a round of applause for the legendary, late sports writer Con Houlihan, who died on Saturday morning, Michael Murphy had the first
chance for his side to take the lead but shot side of the mark.
Colm McFadden kicked the first point of the game before Colm Cooper’s lofted effort levelled proceedings.
However, the Donegal support was in raptures after just seven minutes when the first goal of the game was fired past Brendan Kealy.
McFadden arrowed in a sideline ball from the Cusack Stand side and as Michael Murphy rose to challenge for it, with Aidan O’Mahony, the ball appeared to miss both and travelled past Kealy in the Kerry goal before going into the net via the crossbar.
Murphy followed that up with a point before Declan O’Sullivan, Bryan Sheehan and James O’Donoghue put just a single point between the sides.
Donegal stretched their lead when McFadden converted, before a long spell without any scores. Eoin Brosnan was forced off for Kerry – Brian McGuire coming in – before Tomás Ó’Sé fired an effort wide of the Donegal goal.
Finally, Kerry grabbed a point that should really have been a goal, when Cooper got loose, tore forward, exchanged passes with Kieran Donaghy before fisting over the bar as Paul Durcan advanced.
A McFadden free left it at Donegal 1-4 Kerry 0-5 at the break.
Anthony Maher and Leo McLoone exchanged scores before Cooper made it a one-point game, once again, in the 40th minute after Darran O’Sullivan was fouled.
Two points from the impressive Murphy extended the Donegal lead, with McFadden matching his fellow forward for accuracy in the teeming rain at Headquarters.
It was 1-7 to 0-7 and Donegal were running away with it, further points coming unanswered from McFadden (3) and Christy Toye.
There were six points in the difference when Kerry finally found the net, with just five minutes remaining. Donaghy rose highest in the square to fist to the net after the ball was sent across by Donnchadh Walsh, and when Paul Galvin and Anthony Maher pointed it looked like anything was possible for Jack O’Connor’s side.
Karl Lacey charged upfield in injury time and slotted over Donegal’s insurance point, denying Kerry the chance to face their bitter rivals from Leeside in the process.
Scorers for Donegal: Colm McFadden 1-6 (0-2f), Michael Murphy 0-3 (0-3f), Karl Lacey, Leo McLoone, Christy Toye 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: Colm Cooper 0-4 (0-2f), Kieran Donaghy 1-0, Anthony Maher 0-2, Paul Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan, James O’Donoghue, Bryan Sheehan (0-1f) 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: Paul Durcan (Four Masters); Paddy McGrath (Ardara), Neil McGee (Gweedore), Frank McGlynn (Glenfin); Martin McElhinney (St Michael’s), Karl Lacey (Four Masters), Anthony Thompson (Naomh Conaill); Ryan Bradley (Buncrana), Rory Kavanagh (St Eunan’s); David Walsh (St Brigid’s), Leo McLoone (Naomh Conaill), Mark McHugh (Kilcar); Patrick McBrearty (Kilcar), Michael Murphy (Glenswilly), Colm McFadden (St Michael’s).
KERRY: Brendan Kealy (Kilcummin); Marc Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht), Aidan O’Mahony (Rathmore), Shane Enright (Tarbert); Tomás Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht), Eoin Brosnan (Dr Crokes), Killian Young (Renard); Anthony Maher (Duagh), Bryan Sheehan (St Mary’s); Paul Galvin (Finuge), Declan O’Sullivan (Piarsaigh Na Dromada), Donnchadh Walsh (Cromane); James O’Donoghue (Legion), Colm Cooper (Dr Crokes), Kieran Donaghy (Austin Stacks).