Donegal 1-19 Longford 0-10
Donegal’s hurlers made certain that Sunday week’s Nicky Rackard Cup final will be an all-Ulster affair as they ran out comprehensive 1-19 to 0-10 winners over Longford this afternoon.
Wing forward Kevin Campbell tallied up 0-09 (8f) to set up a clash against Derry for Eamonn Campbell’s side.
In the Enniskillen sunshine, Longford talisman Gareth Ghee hit over four frees but Niall Campbell’s 26th-minute goal really settled the Ulster men as they led 1-08 to 0-06 at the break.
Ghee (0-06 (6f)) and centre forward Joe O’Brien (0-02) kept Longford competitive after the break but frustration saw corner back Benny Stakem red carded four minutes from time.
Donegal, who went unbeaten through the group stages, made a strong start with Danny Cullen and Kevin Campbell (free) firing over inside two minutes.
O’Brien and Ghee replied for the midlanders, but Niall and Kevin Campbell cancelled those scores out and Donegal soon found their rhythm with a notable spell including three scores on the trot – the last being corner forward Campbell’s well-taken goal.
Ghee (free) and Eoin Donnellan showed that Longford, who lost to Derry in Group C last month, were not about to lie down as they landed late points.
But Donegal sent over four of the second half’s opening five points to really pressurise the Leinster side – Colm Breathnach, Eugene Organ and Niall Campbell (0-02) were all on target.
After another Ghee free, the Tír Chonaill men shot over another four successive points through Anthony McDaid, Danny Cullen and Kevin Campbell (0-02 (2f)).
Midfielder Brendan Burke became the fourth Longford player to score soon after when he arced over an impressive point. Credibly, Longford heads did not drop, yet Stakem’s sending-off meant any comeback hopes they had were shelved.
Niall Campbell took his tally to 1-05 in the closing minutes with another point from play, as Donegal went one better than last year and booked a much-prized trip to Croke Park – 12 months ago, they were beaten by eventual champions London at the semi-final stage.
DONEGAL – G Grindle; M McGrath, C Dowds, J Callaghan; J Donnelly, A Begley, J McGee; M McCann, C Breathnach (0-01); K Campbell (0-09 (8f)), A McDaid (0-01), P Tooher; D Cullen (0-02), G Dwyer, N Campbell (1-05).
Subs used: E Organ (0-01) for Tooher (26 mins), J Dolan for Dwyer (67).
LONGFORD – P Cullen; D Corcoran, T Stakem, B Stakem; R Stakelum, M Coyle, F Daly; E Donnellan (0-01), B Burke (0-01); A Corcoran, J O’Brien (0-02), N Casey; M Cassidy, G Ghee (0-06 (6f)), J Newman.
Subs used: C Finnucane for Newman (25 mins), E Corcoran for A Corcoran (half-time), H O’Kane for Donnellan (49), S Hannon for Stakelum (55), J Minnock for Cassidy (62).
Referee: Ray Houlihan (Kildare).