Donegal finish strong against Cavan to reach tenth Ulster final in 12 seasons


Donegal are through to the Ulster final after a late flourish saw them past Cavan at Clones this afternoon.

For long spells it was an enthralling, tight contest, but two messy goals decided it, both from Donegal point efforts which dropped short.

Substitute Conor O’Donnell rolled instinctively to the net to put Donegal 1-15 to 0-14 clear on 61 minutes afterJamie Brennan skied a shot.

Patrick McBrearty scored one of his familiar points on the loop straight away and Donegal had broken for home.

Cavan had two 40 metres efforts from Paddy Lynch and James Smith as they attempted to work their way back into the game, which were outside the scoring zone and dropped short.

The coup de gras came on 69 minutes when another skied shot fell to McBrearty who blazed to the net for a seven point lead.

Breffni Blues boss Mickey Graham will have a long, hard look at how the two goals were conceded, while Donegal might consider putting more high ball inside with the joy they got here.

Donegal now meet the winners of next Sunday’s Monaghan/Derry Ulster semi-final encounter at Armagh.

Perhaps a Spring spent in Division 4 caught up with Cavan who were level at half-time but were outgunned after the break by 2-7 to 0-6.

Cavan’s Padraig Faulkner and Michael Murphy of Donegal

James Smith, Lynch and Thomas Galligan all had massive matches for them, while McKieran powered into the game in the second half.

But the first goal was always going to be decisive and it came Donegal’s way as they avenged their shock winter Ulster final defeat in 2020.

Cavan put in another huge effort here.

At one point, 2020 All Star, Galligan stepped through two challenges, juggling the ball before still having the composure to hit his second point.

Donegal looked like grabbing a goal. Patrick McBrearty had a fumble when about to pull the trigger and he was fouled on another occasion as he sped clear.

Cavan might have had a penalty on two minutes when Hugh McFadden made contact with James Smith as he made to shoot for goal, while the same player crashed a shot off the crossbar, with Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton getting a crucial touch on in.

But it was still Donegal who looked the more likely to get the goal as they were able to create space to greater effect in the Cavan defence.

Donegal only lost one of their own kickouts from 23 set down by Shaun Patton, providing one of the pillars of their victory.

DONEGAL : S Patton, C Ward, B McCole, S McMenamin, R McHugh, E Ban Gallagher, P Mogan (0-1), H McFadden, J McGee, C Thompson (0-1), S O’Donnell, M Langan,P McBrearty (1-4, 0-3fs), M Murphy (0-5, 4fs), J Brennan (0-4).

SUBS : C McGonagle (0-1) for McFadden (inj) 36mins, O McFadden Ferry for Ward 50mins, C O’Donnell (1-0) for Thompson 59mins, N O’Donnell for S O’Donnell 65mins, A Doherty for Brennan 69mins, N McGee for Mogan 73mins.

CAVAN : R Galligan (0-1, f), J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, K Brady, L Fortune, C Moynagh, C Brady, K Clarke, T Galligan (0-2), Gerard Smith (0-1), J Smith (0-3, 1mk), G McKiernan (0-3, 1f), C Madden, P Lynch (0-6, 3fs), C O’Reilly.

SUBS : M Reilly for Cormac O’Reilly 45mins, O Kiernan for Madden 55mins, Caoimhin O’Reilly for K Brady 65mins.

REFEREE : C Lane (Cork)

ATTENDANCE : 15, 523

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