Donegal claim comfortable Ulster title over Cavan

Donegal claim comfortable Ulster title over Cavan
23 June 2019; Jamie Brennan celebrates with Donegal team-mate Patrick McBrearty after scoring his side's first goal during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Donegal and Cavan at St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Cavan 2-16 - 1-24 Donegal

Don't be fooled by the scoreline. This was no thrill-a-minute Ulster final. Any novelty that came with Cavan's first appearance in the decider in 18 years was diluted thoroughly inside an opening quarter which made it plain that this was to be no day for fairytales.

Donegal were never led and never really bothered either. Leading comfortably at the break, they held Cavan at arm's length for the duration of the second period while playing well within themselves to claim a fifth Ulster title this decade and retain the trophy they claimed last summer.

The winners opened with the wind at their backs and swept through the first-half with little or no difficulty, finding the sheds at the interval with an eight-point lead on the back of the 39 minutes of play. Cavan looked helpless at times, their defence showing cracks that expanded into enormous fissures as late runners sprinted through from the Donegal ranks to create havoc and claim their scores.

Eight Donegal players had made the scoreboard by the break, Jamie Brennan claiming three and Ciaran Thompson a pair. All bar two of the 13 in that first period came from play, which told a tale in itself. Cavan simply couldn't lay a finger on them at times.

Donegal were as practised at the back as they were pushing up. Time and again Cavan found themselves facing a seemingly impenetrable yellow barrier and they only managed to find the target with five of their dozen attempts on goal up to the interval.

No surprise in that given how many were attempted on the run and with a man or two biting at their elbows. Cavan needed a goal to keep them in touch until the change of ends when they wind would be their friend. They never got it.

Martin Reilly almost got under a high dropping ball midway through the half but was left in a heap on the turf for his troubles. A few minutes later and Conor Rehill stole in under a wayward point attempt but sent his hurried shot scuttling wide.

All that said, Donegal were the ones ruing the best goal chances of the half but Brennan did at least follow up his smothered shot with a point and Paddy McGrath's miscued effort was mitigated by a Murphy free for a pull back.

Any pretensions that Cavan may have had about reining in that deficit were undone by a third quarter in which they failed to make any inroads on the pitch or on the scoreboard where the favourites remained all but out of sight.

A Jamie Brennan goal for Donegal in the 57th minute brought to an end the first real Cavan surge of the day, one which had delivered three points on the bounce in the preceding minutes, and everything after that was academic. If it wasn't already, that is.

Cavan, to their credit, hung in there and claimed a pair of goals from Conor Madden and Stephen Murray to lubricate the disappointment. Their wait for a first provincial senior title since 1997 has another 12 months to run at the very least. Donegal's ambitions will soar much higher after this.

Scorers for Cavan: G McKiernan (0-6, 0-3 frees); C Madden (1-1); D McVeety (0-3); S Murray (1-0); C Moynagh, C Brady, O Pearson, J Brady and C O'Reilly (all 0-1); C Mackey (0-1).

Scorers for Donegal: J Brennan (1-4); P McBrearty (0-5, 0-1 free); M Murphy (0-4, 0-3 frees); J McGee and C Thompson (both 0-2); R McHugh, E Ban Gallagher, H McFadden, N O'Donnell, M Langan, O Gallen, D O Baoill (all 0-1).

Cavan:

R Galligan; J McLoughlin, K Clarke, P Faulkner; C Brady, C Moynagh, C Rehill; C Brady, G McKiernan; N Murray, O Kiernan, G Smith; M Reilly, D McVeety, O Pearson. Subs: S Murray for N Murray (31); C Mackey for Kiernan and C Madden for Smith (both HT); T Galligan for Conor Brady (51); C O'Reilly for Pearson (53); J Brady for Rehill 71).

Donegal:

S Patton; P McGrath, N McGee, S McMenamin; R McHugh, O McFadden Ferry, E Ban Gallagher; H McFadden, J McGee; N O'Donnell, M Langan, C Thompson; P McBrearty, M Murphy, J Brennan. Subs: D O Baoill for O'Donnell (43); F McGlynn for McGee (53); P Brennan for McFadden Ferry (61); O Gallen for Thompson (63); L McLoone for Langan (71); C Ward for McMenamin (75).

Referee: C Lane (Cork).

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