Super 8s: Donegal beat hard-working Meath by nine points in opener

Patrick McBrearty
McBrearty was making his 100th apearance for Donegal

Donegal had to work hard before running out nine-point winners over Meath in their Super 8s opener at Ballybofey.

A first-half goal from Patrick McBrearty and an injury-time strike from substitute Oisin Gallen helped Declan Bonner's men win 2-19 to 1-13.

Michael Newman scored a 45th minute penalty as the visitors produced a strong display in the second-half.

Both sides go to Croke Park for their second game next week, with Donegal playing Kerry and Meath facing Mayo.

Donegal made a strong start to the game in hot conditions, with influential captain Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan and McBrearty all hitting points in the opening seven minutes.

They were winning a lot of Meath kick-outs and causing them major problems with their quick passing and strength.

Oisin Gallen
Gallen's goal came in the 72nd minute

McBrearty, who scored 1-06 in total, grabbed the first goal of the game in the 25th minute when he raced through and buried a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.

It was his ninth senior goal for Donegal and a fifth in the championship for a player who was making his 100th county appearance.

Meath grew into the game as the half developed and Bryan McMahon scored a superb point as they stayed with Donegal to go into the interval 1-9 to 0-8 down.

It was the visitors who made a strong start to the second period and Gavin McCoy had the ball in the net from close range on 42 minutes only for it to be ruled out for a square ball.

The penalty for Meath's goal was given for a foul by Ryan McHugh on Padraic Harnan three minutes later and Newman made no mistake from the spot as he swept a low strike into the bottom corner.

Michael Murphy
Murphy was amongst the early point scorers in Donegal's win at Ballybofey

The momentum began to swing towards the visitors and they grabbed the lead through a Darragh Campion point in the 55th minute.

The lead only lasted a minute as a McBrearty free brought Donegal level before a Ryan McHugh point restored their lead.

Murphy then inspired a strong finish from his side, with Gallen coming off the bench to claim his first senior goal in injury time.

Donegal: Patton, McGrath, Neil McGee, Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh (0-2), McFadden Ferry, Ban Gallagher, McFadden, Jason McGee (0-1), Thompson, O'Donnell (0-1), Jamie Brennan (0-3), McBrearty (1-6), Murphy (0-3), Langan (0-1).

Replacements: Durcan, McGlynn, McMenamin, Doherty, McCole, McLoone, Eoin McHugh (0-1), O'Baoill, Ward, Gallen (1-1), McGonagle.

Meath: Colgan, Lavin, McGill, Gallagher, Keogan, Harnan, McCoy, Menton (0-2), Shane McEntee (0-1), Devine, McMahon (0-3), James McEntee (0-1), O'Sullivan (0-2), Newman (1-2), Conlon (0-1).

Replacements: McGovern, Brennan, O'Reilly, Tobin, Campion (0-1), Flanagan, Curran, Reilly, Walsh, Kane, Burke.