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Impressive Donegal retain Title

July 23rd, 2012

Ulster GAA Football Championship Final:
Donegal 2-18 Down 0-13

Donegal retained the Ulster title for the first time in their history with an emphatic 11-point victory over Down in Clones on Sunday.

It was a highly impressive performance from Jim McGuinness’s side, especially in the second half when they outscored Down by 1-13 to 0-6. The game had been very tight in the first half, with Down leading at stages, and only a late rally from Donegal at the end of the opening period sent them in ahead, leading by a point at 1-5 to 0-7.

They edged three clear ahead early in the second half, and then a goal from defender Frank McGlynn with 20 minutes to go sent them six clear, and cruising unopposed towards the retention of the Anglo Celt Cup.

They then rammed home their dominance in the final quarter, exposing gaps in the Down defence and slotting over points with ease to record a big victory.

After 31 minutes, Down led 0-4 to 0-2 following what had been a very close opening half an hour.

Space and chances had been at a real premium, with crowded defences in control, but in the final few minutes of the half the game burst into life, with Donegal hitting 1-3 to Down’s 0-3 in the time between the 31st minute and the half-time whistle.

Down’s 0-4 to 0-2 lead was established thanks to a brace apiece from Liam Doyle and Donal O’Hare, while Ryan Bradley and Frank McBreaty struck Donegal’s first two scores.

Then, with Down leading by two, Donegal reverted to an unfamiliar tactic for them – long, fast ball into their forwards – and it bore immediate fruit.

Ryan Bradley grabbed it in the middle and fed it quickly into Leo McLoone, who found himself straight through after gathering possession. He kept his cool, and and slotted low past Brendan McVeigh to edge Donegal ahead.

Down responded very well, and hit two points from play almost immediately from Ambrose Rogers and Doyle.

By now, the game was a totally different affair from that of the first 30 minutes. The play was flowing, had opened up significantly, and plenty of chances were being created.

Donegal came out the better of the final moments before half-time, hitting points from Declan Walsh (2) and David Walsh, alongside an effort from Down’s Kevin McKernan, to go in 1-5 to 0-7 ahead.

The newly discovered open nature of the game prevailed after the restart, as both sides traded classy scores from play in the first 15 minutes of the half.

Laverty and McFadden traded points, before Michael Murphy and Mark McHugh swung over fine scores for Donegal to make it 1-8 to 0-8.

Doyle and Eoin McCartan brought Down back to within two points on two occasions, but both times Donegal responded immediately, McElhinney and McHugh doing the honours.

Then, with less than 20 minutes to go, the decisive score. A Donegal break ended with the ball in the hands of corner back McGlynn, and he rattled low to the net to put the champions six clear.

Once a lead of that size had been established, there was no way back for Down. Donegal were simply too good by that stage, and they continued to power over scores in the final quarter, with Bradley, McFadden and McElhinney all adding to their tally.

Down added a few more scores of their own before the end, but it was merely cosmetic as Donegal cruised to a deserved 11-point win.

Scorers for Donegal: C McFadden 0-6 (3f), L McLoone 1-0, F McGlynn 1-0, M McHugh 0-2, R Bradley 0-2, Declan Walsh 0-2, M McElhinney 0-2, P McBrearty 0-1, David Walsh 0-1, M Murphy 0-1, D McLaughlin 0-1

Scorers for Down: L Doyle 0-4 (2f), D O’Hare 0-2 (1f), A Rogers 0-1, K McKernan 0-1, C Laverty 0-1, E McCartan 0-1, D Hughes 0-1, C McGinn 0-1 (45′), A Branagan 0-1.

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; D Walsh, K Lacey, A Thompson; R Bradley, R Kavanagh; D Walsh, L McLoone, M McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden.

Subs: M McElhinney for David Walsh (HT), C Toye for L McLoone (44), D McLaughlin for R Bradley (58).

Down: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, D O’Hagan; K King, D Gordon, A Branagan; A Rogers, K McKernan; D O’Hare, M Poland, A Carr; B Coulter, C Laverty, L Doyle.

Subs: E McCartan for B Coulter (HT), C McGinn for A Carr (42), D Hughes for D O’Hare (49), B Coulter for K McKernan (54).

Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship Final:
Tyrone 0-14 Monaghan 1-8

Tyrone clinched the Red Hand County’s 23rd Ulster Minor Football title as they edged out Monaghan 0-14 to 1-8 in the final at Clones.

Monaghan led 0-3 to 0-1 but Tyrone responded with seven unanswered points in a 10-minute period to move five up.

Conor McCarthy’s 24th-minute goal got Monaghan back into the game and they moved 1-7 to 0-9 ahead after half-time.

But Tyrone hit five unanswered points to take control again as they earned a deserved victory.

Playing against the breeze, Monaghan made an impressive start as scores from McCarthy, James McElroy and Padraig Keenan helped them take a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.

However, Tyrone then produced the best football of the match as they hit seven scores in 10 minutes.

Sean Hackett [two], Anthony Devlin, the impressive Kieran McGeary, Peter McKenna, Caolan Harvey and James McGahan were the players to score during the period of Red Hand dominance.

However, Monaghan were back in the game as McCarthy fired to the net in the 24th minute after his initial shot had been saved by keeper Daire Martin.

Another Keenan point before the break cut Tyrone’s lead to the minimum and Monaghan were ahead as they outscored the Red Hands by 0-3 to 0-1 in the seven minutes after the resumption.

However, Tyrone regained control as Mark Bradley and McGahan both notched two points in the closing 25 minutes of the contest with Michael Cassidy also on target.

Colm Hughes ended a 22nd-minute scoring drought for the Farney men in the 59th minute but Tyrone held on to win another provincial minor crown.

Minor report: bbc.co.uk/ni