DONEGAL 0-19 CORK 4-11
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT CROKE PARK
GOALS proved to be Donegal’s undoing as Cork advanced to the Division 1 final.
Three times in the second half, Cork breached Donegal’s rearguard for goals, the first time since the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Mayo that the Tir Chonaill men have leaked four goals.
The alarm bells weren’t exactly ringing, though.
It was a tepid contest that had the feel of a challenge game to it. In fact, had there been a red tape to cut, it could have passed for a pitch opening.
Ultimately, Cork’s need for an extra game was the difference. Brian Cuthbert’s men aren’t in Munster Championship action until the end of June. Conversely, it is just five weeks until Donegal welcome Tyrone to Ballybofey to begin their assault on the summer.
In recent years, the third quarter burst has been Donegal’s speciality, but here it was Cork who took command in that period.
Level at 0-11 to 1-8, with Tom Clancy having netted in the first half, Cork stole a march just three minutes into the second half when they got in for a second goal that had more than a dollop of good fortune about it.
John O’Rourke’s attempted point crashed off the upright and Colm O’Neill batted past a stunned Michael Boyle from close range.
Two minutes later, Donegal were rocked when Brian Hurley riffled to the top corner of the Hill 16 net.
Although Donegal came back to make a fist of it, at one stage coming back to within a goal, the goose was cooked for certain when O’Neill bagged Cork’s fourth major, firing home after Hurley made the incision.
Donegal might’ve had a goal in the ninth minute when a quick-fire team move ended with Colm McFadden being denied by the legs of Ken O’Halloran, the Cork goalkeeper.
McFadden had started the move in the middle of the park with Ryan McHugh involved twice, including a neat final pass to tee up McFadden’s shot.
Murphy converted the resulting ’45, the catalyst for four Donegal scores in a row with McBrearty, Murphy again and a magnificent score by Odhrán MacNiallais opening up a 0-7 to 0-3 lead.
By the 18th minute, Cork were back on level terms, however. Wing-back Conor Dorman popped over a point before the Rebels stole in for the opening goal of the game.
O’Neill, stationed in a deep-lying role for long spells, made a fine catch to create the opening. O’Neill laid it off for the in-rushing Tom Clancy who drilled home.
Donegal hit three points in as many minutes through Murphy, Lacey and McBrearty, but the shoot-out would see Cork respond and the sides were deadlocked, 0-11 to 1-8.
Fintan Goold (2), Colm O’Driscoll and O’Neill helped draw Cork level with a long-range point from McFadden coming in the middle of Cork’s salvo.
The goals by O’Neill and Hurley ensured that Cork had a cushion, although Donegal had a big chance to level it up in the 50th minute. Having come back to within a goal, McBrearty was presented with a chance by sub Christy Toye, but O’Halloran came to Cork’s rescue with a save.
When O’Neill tucked home his second, Cork’s fourth, soon after, Cork were headed for the final. Donegal’s minds have already been turned to Tyrone, who’ll not have too much to glean from this one, although Murphy’s eight points from nine attempts will have been noted, mind.
DONEGAL: Michael Boyle; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamon McGee; Anthony Thompson (0-1), Karl Lacey (0-1), Frank McGlynn; Hugh McFadden, Odhrán MacNiallais (0-1); Eoin McHugh, Martin McElhinney (0-2), Ryan McHugh; Patrick McBrearty (0-4, 1f), Michael Murphy (0-8, 2f, 2 ’45), Colm McFadden (0-2). Subs: Eamonn Doherty for Thompson (40 mins), Martin O’Reilly for E.McHugh (46 mins), Christy Toye for McGrath (49 mins), Stephen Griffin for C.McFadden (60 mins), Daniel McLaughlin for H.McFadden (64 mins).
CORK: Ken O’Halloran; Tom Clancy (1-0), Michael Shields (0-1), James Loughrey; Conor Dorman (0-1), Brian O’Driscoll, Tomás Clancy; Eoin Cadogan, Fintan Goold (0-4); Colm O’Driscoll (0-1), John O’Rourke (0-1), Kevin O’Driscoll; Colm O’Neill (2-2), Mark Collins, Brian Hurley (1-1). Subs: Paul Kerrigan for Shields (54 mins), Daniel Goulding for K.O’Driscoll (60 mins), Barry O’Driscoll for Brian O’Driscoll (64 mins), John Hayes for Hurley (67 mins), Donal Óg Hodnett for O’Rourke (68 mins).
REFEREE: Marty Duffy (Sligo)