Ulster SFC: Donegal net two late goals
Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Donegal 2-16 Cavan 0-16
By Declan Bogue at St Tiernach's Park
Donegal have made it back to yet another Ulster final after seeing off an organised and energetic Cavan with two late and decisive goals. The count now stands at 10 in 12 years.
After a much sharper third quarter following a lacklustre opening half – in which they somehow went in at the break 0-9 apiece despite not convincing, Donegal played a smarter game when it went down the stretch.
Despite gaining a three-point advantage nine minutes into the second half, they couldn’t quite shake off a dogged Cavan.
That was until a high ball in by Jamie Brennan had Killian Brady and Michael Murphy hung in the air long enough for Cavan goalkeeper Ray Galligan to come out and complicate things. The break fell to substitute Conor O’Donnell who instinctively rolled it to the net with a sidefoot.
Having put their case so forcefully up to this point, Cavan visibly wilted. Six minutes later Niall O’Donnell found himself a bit of space and whilr having his jersey tugged sent a shot goalwards. It fell short and the break took a deflection off Patrick McBrearty who, grateful to find it in his hands, buried to the net.
It was perhaps cruel on Cavan. They brought no lack of energy and purpose to their game and had some stellar performances from key figures, though they could not sustain the effort.
In Donegal, you have a team that are seasoned and experienced. The move of Michael Murphy to a more advanced position for the start of the second half brought instant rewards as he was the focal point of their attacks.
It appeared that Paddy Lynch might have emerged as the hero of the hour with five points for Cavan in the first half and in playing James Smith in a more advanced position they might have had a first half goal when his shot was parried onto the crossbar by Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton.
But experience won out, and now Donegal will sit back and watch Derry and Monaghan battle to meet them in the Ulster final.
Scorers for Donegal: P McBrearty 1-4 (3fs), M Murphy 0-5 (4fs), J Brennan 0-4, C O’Donnell 1-0, P Mogan, C McGonagle, C Thompson 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cavan: P Lynch 0-6 (3fs), G McKiernan 0-3 (1f), J Smith 0-3 (1), T Galligan 0-2, G Smith 0-1, R Galligan 0-1 (f).
DONEGAL: S Patton; C Ward, B McCole, S McMenamin; R McHugh, EB Gallagher, P Mogan; H McFadden, J McGee; C Thompson, S O’Donnell, M Langan; P McBrearty, M Murphy, J Brennan
Subs: C McGonagle for McFadden (37mins), O McFadden-Ferry for Ward (50 mins), C O’Donnell for Thompson (59 mins), N O’Donnell for S O’Donnell (65 mins), A Doherty for Brennan (69 mins), N McGee for Mogan (71 mins).
CAVAN: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, K Brady; L Fortune, K Clarke, C Brady; T Galligan, J Smith; G Smith, G McKiernan, C Moynagh; Cormac O’Reilly, P Lynch, C Madden
Subs: M Reilly for C O’Reilly (45 mins), O Kiernan for C Madden (55 mins), Caoimhin O’Reilly for K Brady (65 mins).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).