The Donegal Celtic Challenge Cup squad returned to competitive action in the preliminary round of the Corn Jerome O’Leary against Leitrim on Saturday 4th of June. Donegal played their group stages in February and March and finished with 16 points, comprising of points for a win and a draw along with bonus points for scoring 2 or more goals as well as loosing by a margin of 5 or less.
Leitrim came in to the match on the back of playing 5 group matches in May while Donegal hadn’t seen competitive action for a number of weeks. Donegal dominated early proceedings but a number of wides proved costly as Leitrim proved more proficient in front of the sticks. Leitrim were leading 0-3 to -01 as eventually the Donegal pressure and dominance resulted in a goal for Kevin Kealy. It was a lead they were never to relinquish but a determined Leitrim side kept coming at Donegal. Donegal made use of the unlimited rotational substitional rule and went in at half time ahead on 1-8 to 0-7.
Donegal returned as a much better side in the second half and grew into the game dusting off any cobwebs that may have being there in the first half. Kevin Kealy in midfield was involved in great interplay. Caolan McDermott in the half forward line lead by example picking off some lovely long range scores along with some fine passing. Stephen Anderson scored a trio of points with some lovely first time over the shoulder shooting. The team grew in confidence and Chrstopher Gallagher lead the defence to keep Leitrim to 1-2 in the second half. Ciaran Bradley in goals pulled off a number of fine saves and his variety of puc outs always kept Leitrim guessing.
The Tír Chonaill men left Markievicz Park with a result of 2-13 to 1-9. The innovative competition continues Saturday 11th June as only players not sitting state exams may participate. With a draw to be made and teams including Laois, Waterford City and Tyrone the Donegal men look forward to their next outing.