Ulster SFC Final: Donegal retain title
Ulster Senior Football Championship Final
DONEGAL 1-24 CAVAN 2-16
By Cian O'Connell at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones
This was another one of those utterly dominant Donegal days in the Ulster Senior Football Championship.
It has been a decade filled with success and silverware for Donegal, who accumulated a fifth provincial title since 2011 with Jamie Brennan supplying the grace notes on this occasion.
Brennan decorated a dynamic individual display with a 58th minute goal just as Cavan were threatening to launch a comeback mission.
Cavan, one of the blue bloods of the northern game, just couldn’t cope with the power and pace of Donegal in the first half.
By the time the interval rolled around Donegal’s advantage was 0-13 to 0-5, but it could have been more as a couple of gilt edged goalscoring opportunities were spurned.
Donegal had the stamina to run the ball, while also able to deliver from deep with the speed of Jamie Brennan causing the challengers all sorts of problems.
Brennan mined three points from play before the break, while the strong running of Ryan McHugh, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, and Ciaran Thompson caused them significant bother too.
By the 19th minute the favourites had assembled a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage as Conor Moynagh drilled over a splendid point for Cavan.
Still the Donegal response was smart and effective with five points reeled off without reply with Brennan and Paddy McGrath both going close to rattling the Cavan net.
Brennan (two), Murphy (free), Jason McGee, and Thompson raised white flags and though Conor Rehill dragged a goal attempt wide for Cavan, Declan Bonner’s charges still edged eight clear.
That was the margin which divided the teams at the turnaround too with Donegal content that 0-13 had been registered from 23 shots, while Cavan’s conversion rate was 0-5 from 15.
When the action recommenced Donegal struck three of the first five points, but then Cavan eventually started to pose some questions.
Dara McVeety manufactured sufficient space to clip a couple of scores, while Gearoid McKiernan also burst forward to add further points.
A 56th minute McVeety point narrowed the gap and the Cavan crowd were beginning to believe that this summer of drama might include another thrilling revival.
Donegal, though, refused to be perturbed with the electric Brennan sealing the deal when showing his speed to grab a goal in the 58th minute in front of 28,780 spectators.
There was little wrong with Cavan’s attitude or application as substitute Cian Mackey crafted a chance which enabled Conor Madden to palm a 64th minute goal.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time replacement Stephen Murray added a second Cavan goal, but sufficient Donegal damage had been inflicted.
Michael Murphy hoisted the Anglo Celt Cup again, and it is becoming a familiar sight.
Scorers for Donegal: Jamie Brennan 1-4, Paddy McBrearty 0-5 (1f), Michael Murphy 0-4 (3fs), Ciaran Thompson and Jason McGee 0-2 each, Ryan McHugh, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Daire O’Baoill, Hugh McFadden, Niall O’Donnell, and Michael Langan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cavan: Gearoid McKiernan 0-6 (3fs), Conor Madden 1-1, Stephen Murray 1-0, Dara McVeety 0-3, Conor Moynagh, Conor Brady, Oisin Pierson, Jack Brady, Caoimhin O’Reilly, and Cian Mackey (f) 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Stephen McMenamin; Ryan McHugh, Odhran McFadden-Ferry, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Hugh McFadden, Jason McGee; Ciaran Thompson, Michael Langan, Niall O’Donnell; Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan.
Subs: Daire O’Baoill for O’Donnell (43), Frank McGlynn for N McGee (53), Paul Brennan for McFadden Ferry (61), Oisin Gallen for Thompson (64), Leo McLoone for Langan (70), Caolan Ward for McMenamin (70+4).
CAVAN: Raymond Galligan; Conor Moynagh, Killian Clarke, Padraig Faulkner; Jason McLoughlin, Ciaran Brady, Conor Rehill; Conor Brady, Gearoid McKiernan; Martin Reilly, Niall Murray, Oisin Kiernan; Gerard Smith, Oisin Pierson, Dara McVeety.
Subs: Stephen Murray for N Murray (29), Cian Mackey for Kiernan (HT), Conor Madden for Smith (HT), Thomas Galligan for Conor Brady (50), Caoimhin O’Reilly for Pierson (54), Jack Brady for Rehill (70).
REFEREE: Conor Lane (Cork).