Corner backs Johnny Heaney and Sean Kelly got the goals for Galway, who came from seven points down to beat Donegal by 2-8 to 2-7 in storm-lashed Letterkenny.
Padraig Joyce’s men looked doomed as they trailed by 2-5 to 0-4 after 43 minutes, playing into the teeth of the worst Storm Ciara could offer, but they produced a storming surge of their own to leave the north west with both points.
Michael Murphy’s goal from the penalty spot was the defining score of the first half as Declan Bonnar’s charges turned around with a narrow 1-3 to 0-4 advantage, very much in the driving seat as they would have the support of the elements when the action resumed.
With both sides struggling to cope with the inclement conditions, the Tribesmen slotted two of the game’s first three points – Robert Finnerty and Shane Walsh on target either side of a Peadar Mogan effort - but Murphy’s 22nd-minute penalty conversion past substitute goalkeeper Ronan Ó Beoláin following a foul on Jamie Brennan propelled the Ulster champions into a 1-1 to 0-2 lead.
Brennan cancelled out Damien Comer’s effort, Finnerty bagging his second and Murphy closing the first-half scoring from a free deep into stoppage time.
Tempers flare between the sides. ©INPHO/Evan Logan.
Murphy calmly stroked over a ‘45’ in the fifth minute of the second half to leave the goal between them and Brennan made it double scores, the winners roaring seven points clear when Ciaran Thompson latched onto Ryan McHugh’s pass for their second goal in the 43rd minute. Little over 30 seconds later, however, Galway had the ball in the net at the other end, Heaney slamming past Shaun Patton and making it 1-4 to 2-5.
Walsh’s brace halved the gap to two points with 20 minutes left and Kelly’s shot to the bottom corner completed a remarkable, rapid eight-point swing, the visitors taking the lead at the midway point in the second half, 2-6 to 2-5.
Murphy equalised but points from Michael Daly – who was sent off two minutes from time - and Walsh proved decisive, Donegal frustrated as Murphy’s last-minute point was disallowed for a square ball after Thompson had halved the deficit to the minimum, Murphy’s 78th-minute free also tailing the wrong side of the post as Galway mined two precious points.
Galway - C Gleeson; S Kelly (1-0), S Mulkerrin, J Heaney (1-0); G O’Donnell, J Daly, C McDaid; R Steede, C Darcy; F O Laoi, D Comer (0-1), M Daly (0-1); R Finnerty (0-2), S Walsh (0-4, 2f), M Boyle. Subs: R O Beolain for C Gleeson (BC), C Campbell for C McDaid, A Varley for R Steede, P Conroy for F O Laoi.
Donegal - S Patton; C Ward, N McGee, E Ban Gallagher; R McHugh, C O’Donnell, O McFadden Ferry; C McGonagle, M Langan; E McHugh, P Mogan (0-1), P Brennan; C Thompson (1-1, 0-1f), M Murphy (1-3, 1-0pen, 0-1f, 0-1'45, 0-1m), J Brennan (0-2, 1m). Subs: N O’Donnell for P Mogan, A McClean for C McGonagle, D O Baoill for E McHugh.
Referee - J McQuillan.
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