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Gallagher handed an early boost by Donegal debutants

Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup: Donegal 1-11 - Down 0-11

By Chris McNulty

As first days out go, it was quite a useful one for Donegal manager Rory Gallagher as his experimental side defeated Down in Ballybofey.

It was low key and had all the traits of a season-opener, but Gallagher could be encouraged.

Frank McGlynn's goal after only 68 seconds was the game's big score and the 2012 All-Star turned in a fine display.

His early effort caught out Down goalkeeper Stephen Kane as his looping shot flew in.

Debutant Ciaran Thompson kicked two fine points in the first-half as Donegal led 1-3 to 0-4 at the break. Thompson collected the man of the match award and landed another score in the second period.

Martin O'Reilly, stationed at centre-back, showed up well on an afternoon when six of the Donegal starting team were making their debuts.

Gallagher said: "The reason they're in is to push everybody in our set-up and do everything they can to get as many minutes of competitive action as they can.

"It's always good to win and show a bit of mettle. We should have won more convincingly - we overplayed at times and missed chances - but a goal is always a big score."

McGlynn found the net and newcomers Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Jack O'Brien almost got on the board, too. Gallagher shot just wide after scampering into position and O'Brien drilled off the crossbar in the second-half.

The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for captain Michael Murphy, who came off the bench to make his 100th Donegal appearance. Murphy scored a point but Ballybofey was denied the goal it craved when Murphy lost his footing at a crucial moment.

Donegal gave a late cameo to St Eunan's forward Cillian Morrison, who has decided to concentrate on Gaelic football having played League of Ireland soccer with UCD and Derry City.

Morrison, a member of the Donegal Under-21 squad in 2010, played for St Eunan's in their Ulster club campaign last year and has been training with Donegal.

Donegal: D Rodgers; J O'Brien, E Doherty, P McGrath (0-1); E Gallagher, M O'Reilly (0-2, 2f), C Ward (0-1); H McFadden (0-1), C Thompson (0-3); M Carroll, F McGlynn (1-1), S McBrearty; O Mac Niallais (0-1), L McLoone, E McHugh. Subs: M Murphy (0-1) for Carroll (52), C Morrison for McHugh (69).

Down: S Kane; M McGee, C McGovern, R Boyle (0-1); R Mallon (0-1), A Carr, D O'Hanlon (0-2, 2f); P Turley (0-1), C Doyle (0-1); J McDermott, C Mooney, J Murphy; G Johnston (0-2), A McConville (0-1, 1f), S Dornan (0-1). Subs: D Turley for McDermott (45), B O'Hagan (0-1) for Murphy (59), M McKay for McConville (59), C Harrison for Dornan (59), P Downey for P.Turley (66).

Referee: M McNally (Monaghan).


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