Dublin punish late Patton mistake to snatch 1-15 to 1-14 win over Donegal

Dublin's Michael Fitzsimons tries to get away from Donegal's Caolan McGonigle
Dublin trailed by five points on two occasions in the first half but fought back to win by one
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Dates: Saturday and Sunday, 22-23 February Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster MW, BBC Sport website, app and BBC Sounds Saturday from 18:45 GMT and Sunday 13:30

Dublin punished a late Shaun Patton mistake to edge out Donegal 1-15 to 1-14 in a thrilling Football League Division One game at Croke Park.

Hugh McFadden's early goal helped Donegal lead by four and they twice moved five up before Dublin fought back to trail by two at half-time.

Donegal pulled four clear again but Dublin levelled on 60 minutes.

Then came the 65th-minute incident as Patton couldn't hold a Brian Howard ball as Paul Mannion bundled home.

It was tough luck on Patton who had been the most influential player on the pitch in the first half as his pinpoint kickouts set up several Donegal attacks.

Patton had also been solid under the high ball but Mannion's presence seemed to unsettle him as he spilled Howard's towering delivery which allowed the Dublin forward to palm into the roof of the net.

Donegal rue three missed goal chances

Granted, Patton's mistake might not have mattered had Donegal taken three glorious goals chances when Dubs keeper Evan Comerford produced saves when the net should have bulged.

Comerford stopped Ryan McHugh's pointblank effort in the 20th after Michael Murphy had flicked on a Patton clearance to set up the attack although Jamie Brennan was able to point the rebound.

It was a similar story just after the break as Peadar Mogan pointed after his goal opportunity had been saved and Donegal had a four-on-two chance in the 58th minute but substitute Patrick McBrearty, in his first action of 2020, blasted straight at Comerford.

Donegal skipper Murphy and Dublin defender John Small were both sent off deep into injury-time after a melee involving several players led to them getting their second yellow cards.

Donegal's Ryan McHugh battles with Donegal's Paul Mannion
Ryan McHugh's running was central to Donegal's energetic first-half display

Donegal now facing relegation battle

The Ulster champions' defeat leaves them facing a potential relegation fight as they stand on three points after four games while leaders Dublin move to six points as they remain unbeaten following two wins and two draws.

While Donegal were facing a Dublin side that included 10 of their All-Ireland final winning line-up, Declan Bonner will surely be concerned at his team's latest failure to close out a game they probably should have one.

A month ago, Donegal blew a three-point advantage deep into injury-time to draw with Mayo and after a routine win over Meath, then squandered a seven-point second-half lead when they lost to Galway in Letterkenny.

As was the case against Monaghan two weeks ago, Dublin started very slowly as Donegal displayed tremendous early energy.

After a Ciaran Thompson free nudged the visitors ahead, fit-again midfielder McFadden charged straight through the Dublin defence to net in the sixth minute after a quickly-taken lineball following Comerford's misdirected kickout.

Two Murphy placed balls helped Donegal led by three before McHugh missed his glorious goal opportunity in the 20th minute although Brennan was able to fist over the rebound for a point.

At that stage, Michael Langan was winning his midfield battle with Brian Fenton with Brennan and McHugh also troubling the Dubs defence with their direct running.

Dublin level on 60 minutes

A further Brennan score increased Donegal's lead to five but Dublin regrouped to have the better of the closing 15 minutes before the break as they hit four out of five scores to trail by only two.

Donegal increased their advantage to four by the 38th minute but it could have been six as Mogan pointed after Comerford had saved his goal attempt.

But the margin was cut to the minimum by the 45th minute as influential half-time sub Cormac Costello, Dean Rock and Howard were on target.

After Donegal had nudged two up on three occasions over the next 15 minutes, Dublin finally got on terms on the hour mark another substitute Colm Basquel levelled.

That came a minute after McBrearty's miss as Comerford's stop rescued a woefully exposed Dublin defence.

After a scoreless five minutes, something had to give and it did in cruel fashion for Patton as he was left holding his head in his hands following his mistake.

Donegal hit three out of the remaining four scores as they frantically chased the game in the eight minutes of injury-time play but it wasn't to be as Murphy and Small received their red card following the melee.

What they said

Donegal manager Declan Bonner: "It's disappointing we didn't get anything out of the game. We're getting punished for basic mistakes.

"The game swung on two major incidents in the second half. One was our goal opportunity [Patrick McBrearty's chance] which we didn't take and then the Dublin goal from our point of view was very disappointing.

"But we don't have much time to dwell or feel sorry for ourselves. We got to get back up the road now and concentrate on next week's match against Monaghan."



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