By Michael McMullan
DONEGAL goalkeeper Shaun Patton said the scoreline of Sunday’s win over Cavan “flattered” them somewhat and pointed to the impact their goals made.
A Conor O’Donnell goal, with his first touch, put Donegal four points ahead with ten minutes remaining and Patrick McBrearty’s goal sealed a 2-16 to 0-16 win.
Patton was one of the last players to leave the pitch, posing for a litany of photographs and signing a multitude of jerseys.
The last photo was ironically with a youngster wearing a Scotstown top, the club of Rory Beggan, another esteemed member of the goalkeeper’s union.
While Patton highlighted the importance of Donegal’s goals, it was his reflexes that helped him touch James Smith’s shot onto the crossbar to ensure his side were level going in at the break.
“Just about…I did, but sure I am going to claim it anyway,” he said with the brightest of grins. “At half time, we were lucky to be in it.”
Relief wasn’t a term the St Eunan’s goalkeeper felt being level at the break. The feeling in the dressing room was of both teams being on an even keel and it was up to Donegal to push on.
“We had more in the tank than we did in the first half. We kicked on and got the result, but we have plenty to go to the training ground with.
“The goals came at the right time and you could count them fortunate. The full-time score probably flattered us, but goals do make a big difference in games and the two we got were huge for us.”
The father of one of Patton’s young fans suggested his son was on the look-out for some goalkeeping tips during the request for photos after the game. The modest Donegal ‘keeper palmed off the compliment with the same ice-cool style of his performance.
Patton only lost one kick-out – which led to a Cormac O’Reilly 25th minute wide – across the whole game with 1-10 of Donegal tally finding an origin in one of his restarts.
The Donegal goalkeeping warm-up had more than enough emphasis on the long kick-out, but Patton was limited to five in all. It was his variation that was key. Cavan didn’t over commit their press in the second half with the fear of his over the top ball.
It was only after O’Donnell’s game-changing goal that they began to press more aggressively and led to Patton’s long kick to club mate Niall O’Donnell for his high up and under on the way to McBrearty’s goal. Previously O’Donnell found himself in the scoring zone after a long Patton restart.
“Whenever it is available, it is nice to be able to use it, but when a team gives you the chance to get the ball short, there is a relief in our sense that I am not going to be put under too much pressure,” he said of the first 25 minutes of the second half.
“We were getting good enough success from the short and it did benefit us rather than getting pushed back in, so whenever we get the chances to take the shorts we are going to take them.”
With Ulster champions Tyrone gone from the equation, Patton doesn’t feel it has opened up the title race in any way.
“No it doesn’t, there is huge opposition and if you look at every team that is there, it’s nearly Division One standard, it massive.
“We’ll see who we’ll play next week…it’ll be a tough game. As you can see, it’s Ulster football and no game is easy, so any win you get is a great result.
“We can count ourselves lucky to get over the line against Derry last year, so we’ll focus on ourselves and I’ll look forward to watching the game next week.”
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