Donegal came away from Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday, following Fermanagh’s defeat in Armagh, with their promotion prospects firmly back in their own hands. Five points down at the break 1-8 to 0-6, Donegal also conceded the first score of the second half. Thereafter they took command, outscoring Cork 1-13 to 0-3 over the remainder of the game. While the Donegal men ran out seven point winners it was still an engaging match as a flurry of additional time scores put the well deserved gloss on the scoreboard – with 67 minutes on the clock the teams were still level at 1-12 to 0-15. It was particularly pleasing afternoon for Paddy McGrath who returned, from a prolonged period out with injury, as a half-time replacement and made his 100th appearance for the county.
The last round of fixtures for Roinn 2 could hardly have been scripted better. The top four teams in the table play each other and all have a chance of promotion to Roinn 1 and at the other end of the table any two of Cork, Tipperary and Clare will drop to Roinn 3 – in this last round of fixtures Armagh are the only side with no skin in the game. Meath on 10 league points are in pole position with a 21 point score difference and two league-point advantage over Fermanagh and Donegal – Kildare are in fourth with seven points. A win against Fermanagh guarantees Meath top spot but even a loss, as long as it by less than 10 points, guarantees them promotion.
Victory for Donegal over Kildare will in all likelihood result in promotion and a date in Croke Park in the Division 2 final on March 31st. Only a win of 7 points or more absolutely guarantees promotion regardless of any other combination of results – a lower winning margin and score difference comes into play if Fermanagh also win. By virtue of their seven point victory in Cork, Donegal have moved ahead of the Erne-siders on points difference – the league table shows them behind Fermanagh, in third place, because of Fermanagh’s better head to head record. However, in a three-way tie head-to-head results are ditched and places are decided on score difference. Thus, with Donegal having a +5 points difference compared to Fermanagh’s +2, they simply need to beat Kildare by as much (or even two points less) than Fermanagh beat Meath. If Kildare win, however, Donegal are out of the promotion places, while a draw will suffice in the case of a Meath victory.
So it’s all to play for next Sunday at 2.00 pm in Fr Tierney Park, Beal Átha Seannaigh. As usual discount tickets can be bought in advance online or in local Centra and SuperValu stores.