DONEGAL 3-08 CAVAN 1-06
by Chris McNulty at MacRory Park, Dunmoyle – firstname.lastname@example.org
DONEGAL are Ulster Vocational Schools champions for the 13th time after the class of 2012 came from behind to defeat Cavan in the final at Errigal Ciaran’s MacRory Park home on Wednesday.
Eoin McHugh, Brendan McLaughlin and Cathal McGettigan were the goalscorers who paved the way for the victory and Deele College student Raymond McNamee will be jotted in the history books as the last Donegal captain – and indeed the last captain of any county – to collect the trophy as this was the last running of a competition that has served Donegal well over the years.
Without the services of Kilcar ace Ryan McHugh, Donegal were down one of their star turns – but in Killybegs man Hughie McFadden they found quite the replacement. Stationed at centrefield alongside captain McNamee, McFadden was instrumental in a superb fightback by Donegal.
Victory hadn’t looked likely for the defending champions who, in the absence of McHugh, had only Patrick McBrearty in the starting line-up from the team that defeated Monaghan in the 2011 Ulster final.
A Killian McSherry goal in the 11th minute stunned Donegal, who were second best early on, but a golden strike from Eoin McHugh in the 24th minute turned the tide in Donegal’s favour for the first time and led a stirring comeback from Seosamh McKelvey’s boys.
Second-half goals by Brendan McLaughlin and Cathal McGettigan ensured that a five-point deficit was morphed into an eight-point win – a magnificent turnaround by any barometer.
Donegal looked down and out when they trailed by five points with just eleven minutes on the clock. Playing, at that stage, with the aid even of the awkwardly stiff Dunmoyle breeze aiding their sails, Donegal’s play lacked fluidity, their play was lacklustre and Cavan were winning the personal duels.
But suddenly Donegal’s engine clicked into gear – and the Tir Chonaill express never looked back.
By half-time, they had posted an unanswered 1-6 and for the remainder of the game they restricted the shell-shocked Breffni boys to just three scores – all of which were frees by their ace forward Kevin Mulvany.
Donegal: S McCafferty; O Porter, J Coyle, C Cunningham; D Mulgrew (0-1), J Doherty (0-1), K Herron; R McNamee (0-1), H McFadden; C McGettigan (1-0), P McBrearty (0-4, 1f), E McHugh (1-0); B McLaughlin (1-1), C Greene, W Gillespie. Subs: K McNern for Greene (19 mins); J Fitzgerald for Gillespie (54 mins); K Thompson for McGettigan (58 mins); P Sweeney for Herron (60 mins); R McAteer for Cunningham (60 mins).
Cavan: C Smith; C O’Reilly, J Cunningham, L McCabe; D Donegan, A Watson, F Reilly; L Buchanan, D Harper; G Smith, S Jackson, M Argue; T Cooney (0-1), K Mulvany (0-4, 4f), K McSherry (1-1). Subs: G McGovern for Harper (40 mins); G Watters for Cooney (42 mins); P Smith for Jackson (48 mins); B Carty for McSherry (54 mins).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).