Donegal make it into first final for 20 years

Donegal 0-16 Cork 1-11
A strong second-half display helped Donegal into their first All-Ireland SFC Final since 1992, following a two-point win over Cork at Croke Park this afternoon.

Jimmy McGuinness's charges found it hard to break free from the shackles of a side seeking their fourth All-Ireland final appearance in six years.

Level on seven occasions during an intense opening half, Donegal led at the break thanks to a Mark McHugh point and never looked back after this.

The Ulster champions led by five points on three separate occasions in the second half, and although Cork were handed a life-line thanks to a late Colm O'Neill goal, Donegal weren't to be denied an All-Ireland final spot.

Nine players were on target for the eventual winners in a game which truly excited the 55,169 spectators in attendance, the bulk of those in Donegal jerseys.

The first half of this game was certainly poetry in motion, a contest were neither side could take their eye off the ball for even a second, as each score was quickly met with another from the opposition.

Donegal drew first blood with Michael Murphy slotting over the first of his three points from frees in the third minute.

Rory Kavanagh had a chance soon after to add to Donegal's tally but failed to make amends, with his side lording early possession.

Fintan Goold was unstuck for Cork in the fifth minute, but points from Paul Kerrigan and Paddy Kelly placed Cork into a 0-2 to 0-1 lead after seven minutes.

Donegal bounced back to take the lead thanks to a brace of McFadden scores, but Daniel Goulding ensured the sides were tied for the third time with his only point of this game in the 14th minute.

After an intense opening quarter nothing separated the sides and again there was little of an edge to be gained over the second quarter - both teams once more failing to yield an inch.

Murphy and Ciaran Sheehan swapped scores, before a four-minute spell which saw defences firmly on top, with wides also coming from both sides.

Rory Kavanagh edged Donegal into a 0-5 to 0-4 lead after 24 minutes, but a brace of Colm O'Neill points pushed Cork in front less than three minutes later.

Karl Lacey and Sheehan swapped scores, but Donegal made the stronger finish to the half.

Substitute David Walsh tied the contest for the seventh time within 30 seconds of his introduction, then Mark McHugh pushing Donegal ahead as injury-time approached.

Donegal were simply immense throughout this game, McHugh's 'sweeper' role certainly proving effective - gathering the ball in his own defence and eventually finishing the move which produced the score which gave his side a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Cork sensed problems and introduced Pearse O'Neill for Fintan Goold at half-time, but Donegal weren't to yield easily.

Just seven minutes after the restart they moved 0-11 to 0-7 ahead, with two of those three points coming from defenders with Frank McGlynn and Karl Lacey on target.

Midfielder Aidan Walsh bagged a much required score for Cork, but Donegal just kept on motoring.

Half-back Anthony Thompson followed the lead set by Lacey and McGlynn to become the third Donegal defender on target for a score.

Luck was simply not with Cork - O'Neill was denied by the crossbar after a glorious goal-chance in the 46th minute.

Sheehan cut the gap to three points with his third point of the day, but once again Donegal upped their game.

Scores from McFadden and Murphy opening up a five-point gap for the first time in the 54th minute.

With the game now in the final quarter, Cork needed a major shake-up, but the introduction of Nicholas Murphy failed to yield the results required.

Donegal hugely dominated possession, and could afford to be wasteful of some scoring chances.

Substitute Martin McElihinney opened up a five-point gap with three and a half minutes of normal time on the clock.

However, there was still a chink in their armour as they were caught off-guard thinking this game was firmly in the bag in injury-time.

Colm O'Neill snuck through for the only goal of the contest in the 72nd minute, as he registered his second goal of the Championship.

O'Neill's score cut the gap to two points, but not even the loss of Paddy McBrearty through injury upset Donegal, as the Tir Chonaill side stood firm until the end to hold out for victory.

Scorers for Donegal: Colm McFadden (2f, 1 45') 0-5; Michael Murphy (3f) 0-3; Karl Lacey 0-2; Rory Kavanagh, David Walsh, Mark McHugh, Frank McGlynn, Anthony Thompson, Martin McElhinney 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Colm O'Neill 1-3; Ciaran Sheehan 0-3; Paul Kerrigan 0-2; Paddy Kelly, Daniel Goulding (1f), Aidan Walsh 0-1 each.

DONEGAL: Paul Durcan; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn; Eamon McGee, Karl Lacey, Anthony Thompson; Neil Gallagher, Rory Kavanagh; Ryan Bradley, Leo McLoone, Mark McHugh; Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden. Subs: David Walsh for Bradley (30); Martin McElihnney for R Kavanagh (58); Declan Walsh for McGlynn (68); Daniel McLoughlin for McBrearty (72)

CORK: Alan Quirke; Noel O'Leary, Michael Shields, Eoin Cadogan; Paudie Kissane, Graham Canty, Fintan Goold; Alan O'Connor, Aidan Walsh; Ciaran Sheehan, Paddy Kelly, Paul Kerrigan; Colm O'Neill, Donncha O'Connor, Daniel Goulding. Subs: Pearse O'Neill for Goold (HT); Denis O'Sullivan for A O'Connor (47); Nicholas Murphy for D O'Connor (55).

REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath)

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