Donegal are the first Ulster Hurling Senior Shield Champions
Ulster GAA Hurling Senior Shield Final
DONEGAL 5-13 MONAGHAN 2-14
Donegal are the first Ulster Senior Hurling Shield champions following their eight point win over Monaghan in Brewster Park, Enniskillen on Sunday 26 June.
In a highly entertaining encounter Donegal recovered from a slow start and two early Monaghan goals to run out comfortable winners in the end.
Jack O’Loughlin, Paddy Hannigan and Danny Cullen scored the first half goals while Kevin Campbell and Ronan McDermott raised the second half green flags for the Ardal McDermott men.
Lee Henderson posted seven points and in all Donegal had 11 different scorers with Niall Cleary and Paul Nelson also among the scorers.
Conor McKenna hit the game’s opening score on 12 seconds but Donegal were back on level terms inside the first minute with a massive strike from way out the field from Stephen Gillespie.
Monaghan were back in front three minutes later thanks to a close in Fergal Rafter free and before Donegal missed a glorious chance to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty.
Paddy Hannigan was dragged down for the penalty but Lee Henderson’s strike from the spot crashed off the left hand upright and in the follow up Henderson was just wide off the post.
The miss seemed to knock Donegal back and they did not score for the next quarter hour until Henderson split the posts with a good point.
In between Monaghan had enjoyed a good ten minute spell and added 2-2 to race into a 2-4 to 0-1 lead. Conor Boyle and Mark Treanor scored the Monaghan goals.
But Donegal had their time in the sun and they outscored Monaghan, 3-3 to 0-0 in the next 20 minutes to go in at the break a goal up, 3-4 to 2-4.
Henderson got the revival underway with a second point in the space of a minute.
There was a touch of good fortune about two of the goals. The first came from a Jack O’Loughlin free from his own ‘65’ that went all the way to the Monaghan net.
That was on 29 minutes and three minutes later Paddy Hannigan scrambled to the net when a Henderson free from inside of his own ‘65’ was dropped by the Monaghan cornerback Aaron Kenny.
With the Monaghan lead back to a point, 2-4 to 2-3, Danny Cullen struck for a super goal. The Setanta man cut in from the left before unleashing an unstoppable shot from ten metres for a brilliant individual goal and the lead for the first time.
And Niall Cleary rounded off the half with a well struck point for a 3-4 to 2-4 half-time lead.
Donegal got the second half off to a good start with a Cullen point and a fourth goal; this time half-time replacement for Sean McVeigh, Kevin Campbell got on the end of a long range Henderson free to steer the sliotar around David McGahon and a 4-5 to 2-4 lead.
Further points from Campbell and Paul Nelson either side of a Conor Boyle ‘65’ saw Donegal stretch their advantage out to eight points, 4-7 to 2-8.
But Monaghan were in no mood to go away and they responded with five unanswered points from Boyle, Conor McKenna, Mark Treanor(2) and Brian McGuigan to reduce the Donegal advantage to three.
Lee Henderson steadied the Donegal ship with three points, two from frees, before Ronan McDermott added the final bit of polish with goal number five to become the first winners of the the Ulster Senior Hurling Shield Championship.
The win also means that Donegal, who were relegated in the league from Division 2B of the Allianz Hurling League, will play in the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship.
Donegal: Paul Burns; Martin McGrath, Joe Boyle, Mark Gallagher; Sam Doherty, Jack O’Loughlin (1-0), Conor O’Donnell; Danny Cullen (1-1, Stephen Gillespie (0-1); Ronan McDermott (1-0), Niall Cleary (0-1), Sean McVeigh; Lee Henderson (0-7,6f), Paddy Hannigan (1-0), Bernard Lafferty. Subs: Kevin Campbell (1-1) for S McVeigh half-time; Paul Nelson (0-2) for P Hannigan 41.
Monaghan: David McGahon; Aaron Kenny, Patrick Finnegan, Brian Flanagan; Shane McNally, Peter Treanor, Martin Murphy; Declan Crowe (0-2), Stephen Forde; Conor Boyle (1-5, 3f, 2’65s’), Conor McKenna (0-2), Fergal Rafter (0-1,f); Tadhg Campbell, Mark Treanor (1-3), Brian McGuigan (0-1). Subs: Cathal Power for F Rafter, Tony Forde for S Forde, both at half-time; Brendan Connor for S McNally 40; Eoin Leonard for C Power 69.
Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim)
Report: Tom Comack.