by Tom Comack at Kingspan Breffni
Donegal opened their TG4 Ulster championship campaign with a hard-fought victory over Cavan at Kingspan Breffni this afternoon.
Five points separated the sides at the final whistle, with veteran forward Karen Guthrie turning in a five-star performance in the full forward line. Guthrie ended the game with a personal tally of 1-4 as Donegal bounced back from the disappointment of relegation from Division 1 of the Lidl National League to get off to a winning start in the Championship.
Her goal before half-time was the game’s defining score and sent Donegal in two point clear at the break, after Cavan had led by 0-3 to 0-1 early on.
Katie Dowds was the other Donegal point scorer in the opening half.
Lauren McVeety landed two of the Cavan points and full-forward Aishling Sheridan posted the other.
Guthrie, starring in her first game of 2023, kicked the game’s opening point inside three minutes, as Donegal took the game to Cavan from the off.
With both defences on top, it was another six minutes before the locals got off the mark, when Aishling Sheridan unlocked the packed Donegal rearguard to stroke over Claire Friel’s crossbar.
Cavan played with the advantage of a stiff breeze and added the game’s next two scores to go 0-3 to 0-1 ahead, both scored by ace forward McVeety.
Katie Dowds then converted from 30 metres, way out on the left hand side, to reduce the Cavan lead to one.
That was on 20 minutes and five minutes later, Guthrie netted first time when the ball broke in a crowded goalmouth.
The goal opened up a 1-2 to 0-3 advantage for Donegal, and that’s how it stayed until half-time.
Cavan scored the first point of the second half, with Neasa Byrd splitting the posts three in, but that was the only score of the half for the hosts.
It was midway through the half before Donegal responded, with Susanne White converting a close-range free, and the visitors finished with three late points to claim a vital win, despite a missed penalty from 2022 TG4 Senior Players’ Player of the Year Niamh McLaughlin.
Cavan scorers: L McVeety 0-2 (1f), A Sheridan, N Byrd 0-1 each.
Donegal: K Guthrie 1-4, K Dowds 0-1, S White 0-1f.
CAVAN: Roisin O’Reilly; G Faulkner, S Lynch, C Charters; Z Fay, N Byrd, Rebecca O’Reilly; C Finnegan, A Cahill; Sophie Slowey, Aisling Gilsenan, Annie Deneher; L McVeety, A Sheridan, G Smith.
Subs: L. O Reilly for A. Deneher (h/t); G. Sheridan for G. Smith (45); A. Walls for A Cahill (48).
DONEGAL: C Friel; N Carr, A Temple Asoko, Nicole McLaughlin; A Boyle Carr, S McGroddy, T Hegarty; S Twohig, Niamh McLaughlin; R Rodgers, K Long, K Dowds; K Guthrie, K Herron, S. White.
Subs: C McGarvey for S McGroddy (52); E Gallagher for K Long (60).
Referee: P Conway (Armagh).Tweet