By Tomás McCarthy
At Fraher Field
A last gasp goal by full-forward Emma McCroary delivered a dramatic Lidl National Football League Division 1 win for the Donegal ladies on a windswept Saturday afternoon in Dungarvan.
Maxi Curran’s side trailed 1-11 to 1-9 deep into injury time, but a Geraldine McLaughlin free – her eighth point of the afternoon – and McCroary’s 66th minute strike saw them bounce back from an opening day loss to Mayo with this morale boosting victory.
After Caroline Sharkey had goaled for Donegal 12 minutes from time, Katie Murray’s strike ten minutes later had put Waterford in the driving seat. The Comeragh Rangers corner-forward scored 1-3 in the second half, while Chloe Fennell kicked three points from play and Rosie Landers produced three super saves, but they couldn’t build on last week’s win against Galway and lost out in the final moments.
Waterford won the toss and elected to play against the gale in the first-half and they almost got off to a flying start but Liz Devine drove an early chance across the face of goal.
Donegal attacker Nicole Gordon raised the first white flag in the seventh minute as she punished an error in the Déise defence. At the other end, Aileen Wall waltzed past three defenders but blasted high and wide with the goalkeeper beaten. Sharkey and Geraldine McLaughlin converted frees to put the visitors 0-3 to 0-0 ahead.
The hosts sought to hold onto possession into the elements, and Aoife Murray opened Waterford’s account on 13 minutes before Kelly Ann Hogan kicked a free. Landers then palmed away Kathy Ward’s goal-bound effort. Chloe Fennell levelled matters at three points each after 22 minutes and Landers again saved another certain green flag, this time from Geraldine McLaughlin.
Another Hogan free handed Waterford the initiative, before Donegal danger woman Geraldine McLaughlin equalised with their first point in 16 minutes. And then in first-half added-time, she was fouled in front of goal and popped over the resultant free for a 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead.
Geraldine McLaughlin extended that advantage to two on the restart but Waterford got back on level terms through Katie Murray and Hogan, while their chances were boosted when Donegal defender Deirdre Foley was sin binned for a high tackle on Megan Dunford.
A Chloe Fennell point from 40 metres gave Waterford the lead again but there was no shaking off Donegal. Geraldine McLaughlin replied with two close range frees, although Fennell’s third of the hour tied the contest for the fifth and final time.
In a topsy-turvy final quarter Sharkey found the bottom corner which gave Donegal the advantage with 12 minutes to go, before Murray’s goal gave Waterford the edge, only to be denied at the death by McCroary’s winning strike for the Ulster champions.
Scorers – Donegal: G McLaughlin 0-8 (6f), C Sharkey 1-1 (1f), É McCroary 1-0, N Gordon 0-1. Waterford: K Murray 1-3, KA Hogan 0-4 (4f), C Fennell 0-3, A Murray 0-1.
Donegal: A McColgan; AM Logue, E Gallagher, D Foley; E McGinley, K Keaney, N Carr; N McLaughlin, K Ward; A Boyle Carr, N Gordon, A Nee; C Sharkey, G McLaughlin, E McCroary.
Subs: N McDonald for Boyle Carr (h-t), R Rodgers for Logue (43), N Boyle for Ward (43).
Waterford: R Landers; M Dunford, C McGrath, R Dunphy; M Wall, K McGrath, R Casey; E Murray, L Devine; KA Hogan, C Fennell, R Tobin; A Murray, A Wall, K Murray.
Subs: A Baumann for Devine (49), M Boylan for Tobin (62), A Dalton for A Murray (64).
Referee: K Phelan (Laois).