Football League: Donegal trounce Down in Newry opener

Down's Mark Poland in action against Hugh McFadden of Donegal
Down's Mark Poland in action against Hugh McFadden of Donegal

Ryan McHugh scored two goals as Donegal dominated their Division One opener against Down at Pairc Esler, running out comfortable 3-15 to 0-7 victors.

The visitors led 0-9 to 0-3 at half-time and McHugh's double, plus another goal from Patrick McBrearty, saw Donegal take total control of the game.

The Mournemen had Donal O'Hare red-carded in the 65th minute for an off-the-ball incident with Eamon McGee.

McGee was one of five players who received black cards during the match.

Donegal duo Neil McGee and Michael Carroll were also black-carded, along with Down pair Joe Murphy and Conaill McGovern.

Neil McGee was penalised for bringing down Ryan Johnston in the 18th minute, but O'Hare's resulting penalty was saved by young Donegal goalkeeper Peter Boyle.

For Down and new manager Eamon Burns, it was a rude awakening to the realities of life in Division One following their promotion last season.

Murphy prolific for Donegal

Early long-range points from Ciaran Thompson and Michael Murphy, the latter from a free, set the tone for the match and Murphy continued to play a pivotal role with a series of frees and an expertly executed point from an acute angle.

Five unanswered scores in the run-up to the break saw Rory Gallagher's side lead by six points at the interval and McHugh found the net with the deftest of touches after 40 minutes.

His Kilcar clubmate McBrearty fired home the second with a clinical finish into the bottom corner two minutes later and Leo McLoone got in on the act with two points in as many minutes to leave the score 2-12 to 0-7.

McHugh's second goal of the evening on 58 minutes extended his side's advantage further and O'Hare's dismissal completed a miserable evening for the hosts.

Donegal, who introduced the returning Rory Kavanagh as a second-half substitute, play Cork at Ballybofey in their next fixture on Sunday 7 February, with Down away to Monaghan in another Ulster derby.

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher: "When we got the first goal, the game kind of ran away from them. We would expect Cork to be stronger next week.

"We want to keep improving, working hard and getting into good habits in the league."

WEEKEND ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE FIXTURES

Saturday - Results

Division 1

Down 0-7 3-15 Donegal

Dublin 2-14 0-14 Kerry

Sunday - 14:00 GMT unless stated

Division 1

Cork v Mayo, Pairc Ui Rinn

Roscommon v Monaghan, Kiltoom

Division 2

Derry v Fermanagh, Celtic Park, 14:15

Meath v Armagh, Pairc Tailteann

Tyrone v Cavan, Healy Park

Laois v Galway, Portlaoise

Division 3

Clare v Sligo, Miltown Malbay

Limerick v Tipperary, Kilmallock

Offaly v Longford, Tullamore

Westmeath v Kildare, Mullingar

Division 4

Louth v London, Gaelic Grounds, 13:00

Carlow v Antrim, Dr Cullen Park

Wexford v Leitrim, Bellefield

Wicklow v Waterford, Aughrim