Donegal’s Eoghan Bán Gallagher scores the only goal of the game.  Inpho/Ryan Byrne

McGuinness's Donegal prove too strong for Louth, into semis

Donegal 1-23; Louth 0-18

The gods of upsets had their work done after Galway shocked Dublin so Sunday afternoon began as expected with Jim McGuinness’s Donegal proving too strong for Louth at Croke Park.

Ger Brennan’s team gave it a good shot and were only three points down at the interval but when the Ulster champions stepped up in the third quarter with a succession of points to go six ahead,  it was the beginning of the end for the Wee County’s great summer odyssey.

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With memories of a fightback in the Leinster Final against Dublin, there was the possibility that the Leinster finalists might do the same here; instead it was Eoin Bán Gallagher who reacted quickest on the hour mark to Paddy McBrearty’s  rebounded goal effort to raise the only green flag of the contest.

Man of the Match Peadar Mogan had been a thorn in the Louth side all game and ended up with five points from play to his credit but full-forward Oisin Gallen was little behind with four great scores while further out - Michael Langan, Ryan McHugh and Caolan McColgan all contributed scores which showed the gulf in class between the two teams.

The return of McGuinness has rejuvenated his county and it must be said they play a much slicker and more attractive brand of football than the side he led to All Ireland glory 12 years ago.

With a league and provincial title already in the bag, he will face his toughest game of the season against Padraic Joyce’s Galway, who are a seasoned bunch at this stage with a hat-trick of Connacht titles but still hunger to go one better than their loss to Kerry in the Sam Maguire decider of two years ago.

The win over Dublin will give Galway the spur to kick on but that said, Donegal are a good mix of experienced players and youthful starlets who will pose a major headache for any team left in the competition.

McGuinness was happy to qualify to play Galway but was worried over certain traits in his side’s performance against the Wee men: “We're happy we're in the next round I suppose. Louth asked a lot of questions of us, scored 18 points against us so there's areas there that we want to work on, but overall, we're happy.

“We've managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over for basically the whole way through the game. They tightened it up a couple of times, but Louth are a good side and on the right trajectory. They’ve done a really good job and they know Croke Park as well. They’ve played more championship matches here than us and pushed the Dubs close a couple of times.

“So all of that was sort of factored in. As long as we got over the line, we were going to be happy and thankfully we did,” he emphasized.

Donegal: S Patton; E Gallagher (1-0), B McCole, P Mogan (0-5); R McHugh (0-2), C McGonagle, C Moore (0-2); M Langan (0-3), C Thompson (0-2); S O'Donnell, C O'Donnell (0-2), D Ó Baoill; P McBrearty (0-1m), O Gallen (0-4, 0-1f), N O'Donnell Subs: A Doherty (0-1) for N O'Donnell h/t, C McColgan for Ó Baoill 46, J MacCeallbhui for C O'Donnell 49, J Brennan (0-1) for McBrearty 59, H McFadden for S O'Donnell 66.

Louth: N McDonnell; D Corcoran, D Campbell, D McKenny; B Duffy, C Lennon (0-1), A Williams; T Durnin (0-4), C Grimes; L Grey, C Murphy, C McKeever; C Keenan, S Mulroy (0-6, 0-4f), R Burns (0-2) Subs: C Early (0-1) for McKeever 17-f/t blood, P Mathews for Grey 43, T Jackson (0-1) for Murphy 43, L Jackson (0-1) for Burns 43, C Byrne (0-2) for Williams 68, T McDonnell for Corcoran 71.

Ref: J McQuillan (Cavan).