Ulster Senior Football Championship Final
Donegal 2-18 Fermanagh 0-12
There was never any sign of a surprise as Donegal reclaimed the Anglo Celt Cup with the minimum of fuss.
Fermanagh, seeking an historic first title competed valiantly, but were unable to adequately cope with Donegal’s cocktail of pace and power.
Such was Donegal’s composure in the sweltering conditions the match was short on suspense and drama despite Fermanagh’s plucky efforts….
From early morning Fermanagh folk gathered in Clones eager to delight in the beauty of Ulster Final day, but the first half proved to be a sobering reminder of Donegal’s pedigree.
There was little wrong with Fermanagh’s attitude or application, but they just couldn’t generate sufficient possession in the middle third of the pitch.
Donegal, with Michael Murphy dropping deep to assist Leo McLoone and Hugh McFadden, dictated the agenda as willing runners popped up throughout the field.
While Sean Quigley stroked Fermanagh ahead with a free the Donegal riposte was impressive as the favourites reeled off 1-4 on the spin. Suddenly Fermanagh were in all sorts of bother especially following Eoghan Ban Gallagher’s 15th minute goal.
Crafted by Paddy McBrearty’s skill and Ryan McHugh’s speed Gallagher palmed the ball into the back of the Fermanagh net.
Gallagher and Murphy (free) added further efforts for Donegal, who edged 1-4 to 0-1 in front and the match continued with Declan Bonner’s charges calling the tune.
When Fermanagh eventually registered a point from play in the 30th minute courtesy of Eoin Donnelly Donegal replied immediately.
McHugh’s intelligent burst and blistering finish guided Donegal into an eight point advantage and Fermanagh were in significant distress.
When the interval rolled around Donegal’s 2-7 to 0-5 cushion was healthy with Fermanagh completely aware that a dramatic improvement was necessary.
Substitute Seamus Quigley, Barry Mulrone, and Conall Jones did rifle nice scores for Fermanagh after the restart, but Donegal still led 2-10 to 0-9 in the 53rd minute even though McBrearty limped out of the action injured.
Fermanagh’s cause was scarcely aided by the dismissal of Ryan Jones, who was sent off for picking up a black card after earlier seeing yellow.
That was a blow, but from then until the end all that needed to be determined was Donegal’s margin of victory. Monitoring Donegal in the All Ireland Quarter-Final round robin series promises to be interesting.
Scorers for Donegal: Eoghan Ban Gallagher 1-1, Michael Murphy 0-4 (3fs), Ryan McHugh 1-0, Ciaran Thompson 0-3 (1f), Paul Brennan 0-2, Paddy McGrath, Paddy McBrearty, Jamie Brennan, Mark McHugh, Odhran MacNiallais, Cian Mulligan, Darrach O’Connor, Michael Langan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Fermanagh: Sean Quigley 0-4 (4fs), Seamus Quigley 0-3 (1f), Conall Jones, Eoin Donnelly, Barry Mulrone, Ciaran Corrigan, Ruari Corrigan 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Stephen McMenamin, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Frank McGlynn, Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh; Hugh McFadden, Leo McLoone; Odhran MacNiallais, Michael Langan, Ciaran Thompson; Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan.
Subs: Daire O’Baoill for McBrearty (39), Caolan Ward for P Brennan (57), Anthony Thompson for MacNiallais (61), Cian Mulligan for Langan (63), Mark McHugh for Thompson (64), Darrach O’Connor for J Brennan (68).
FERMANAGH: Patrick Cadden; Kane Connor, Che Cullen, Michael Jones; Barry Mulrone, James McMahon, Lee Cullen; Eoin Donnelly, Ryan Jones; Paul McCusker, Declan McCusker, Aidan Breen; Sean Quigley, Conall Jones, Ciaran Corrigan.
Subs: Eamon McHugh for Connor (32), Cian McManus for M Jones (HT, BC), Seamus Quigley for P McCusker (HT), Tom Clarke for C Corrigan (45), Ruairi Corrigan for Sean Quigley (57), Daniel Teague for D McCusker (67).
REFEREE: David Gough (Meath).