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Donegal’s Double Delights in Clones

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BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN CLONES

DONEGAL fans painted Clones green and gold yesterday as the minor and senior footballers won their Ulster finals.

For the first time ever, Donegal is celebrating the ‘dream double’ and last night thousands were set to converge on Donegal town to toast the arrival of the Fr Murray and Anglo-Celt Cups.

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Donegal had both teams in the finals before but the visits in 1963, 1991, 1992 and 2006 didn’t see the double won.

Jim McGuinness continues to work his wonders. After Declan Bonner’s minor team scored a 2-12 to 0-10 win over Armagh – with goals by John Campbell and Jamie Brennan – to get the ball rolling, the stage was set for a rematch of last year’s final, in which Monaghan defeated Donegal.

There was no repeat here as Donegal masterminded the perfect response, to win 0-15 to 1-9 to win the Ulster title for the third time in four years and take McGuinness’s own record to 13 wins from 14 games in the cherished provincial Championship.

31,912 – or, ‘an absolute sell out’, as the Ulster Council put it – were in St Tiernach’s Park to see Donegal send out a message to their rivals. “We could have sold another 8,000 tickets easily,” a spokesman said.

There were some memorable milestones yesterday with Christy Toye marking the occasion of his 50th Championship game and completing a remarkable comeback from an illness which kept him out of all of last year and could, so easily, have ended his career.

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Or what of the McBrearty brothers from Kilcar, Stephen and Patrick, who scored three points apiece in each final? They became the first brothers to play a minor and senior final for Donegal on the same day since the Breslins of Gaoth Dobhair – Donal, Cormac and Peter – in 1963.

Minor manager Bonner’s son Christian came on as a sub in their win, which was Donegal’s first minor title win since 2006.

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Both teams now advance to All-Ireland quarter-finals, with the minors set to meet Roscommon on the August Bank Holiday weekend and the seniors lining up for a tilt at Meath or Armagh the following weekend.

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