Donegal relinquished their All-Ireland Vocational Schools title when they went down to a strong Cork side in Portarlington, Co. Laois yesterday.
It had looked so good for the Donegal boys for much of the opening half, as they led Cork a merry dance for the opening 30 minutes.
By Cóilín Duffy
photos: denis byrne
But a superb second half showing undone the All-Ireland ambitions of the Donegal boys.
Leading by 0-8 to 0-5 at half-time, Donegal had certainly showed better in this midday start, but with a strong swirling wind causing havoc, and Cork gaining a firm foothold in the second half this game turned in the Rebels favour, as the Munster champions held Donegal scoreless in the second half.
Senior star Paddy McBrearty led by example for Seosamh Mac Ceallabhuí’s charges in the early stages with two pointed frees ensuring a 0-2 to 0-0 lead in the seventh minute.
Donegal were hugely dominant in attack at this stage, with good play from the likes of Raymond McNamee, McBrearty and Cathal McGettigan as they threw everything at the Cork defence.
Cork’s attacking opportunities were hugely limited at this stage, with their opening score coming from only their second attack in the ninth minute, after Gearoid Finn slotted a free kick between the posts.
Cork broke 0-3 to 0-2 ahead by the 13th minute thanks to two further scores, with Daniel Nyhan and Daniel O’Connor on target.
This was certainly a good five-minute spell from the Rebels, but Donegal stood firm, failing to leak any further scores and once again got going at the opposite end.
McBrearty tied the game in the 16th minute with his third pointed free, before Owen McHugh edged Donegal ahead with a fine score a minute later, which involved the Colaiste na Carrige student making a strong block in the heart of his own defence, with the ball played through McBrearty and John Fitzgerald, before McHugh claimed the score.
Donegal moved 0-8 to 0-4 ahead in the 29th minute, following McBrearty’s seventh point, but Kevin Crowley cut the deficit with an injury-time point for Cork.
Cork rattled off three points inside the opening eight minutes of the second half to tie the contest at 0-8 apiece, and while a Daniel O’Connor score placed them 0-9 to 0-8 ahead, Donegal were motoring well around the midfield sector.
Donegal failed to get a grip in attack in the second half, with Cork continuing to peg off scores at the opposite end.
The Tir Chonaill men were three points in arrears in the 50th minute, but two McBrearty scorable frees were indicated as wide by the umpires, although his 53rd minute effort was clearly a legitimate score.
Cork failed to give up, with a 57th minute Daniel Nyhan goal the nail in Donegal’s coffin as the Rebels advanced to an All-Ireland decider against Kildare.
Cork: Daniel Casey; Keith Dennehy, Joe Lynch, Derek Canty; Kevin Crowley (0-1), Sean O’Sullivan, Daniel Nyhan (1-1); Maurice Murphy, Gary Farrell (0-1, 1f); Gavin O’Shea, Daniel O’Connor (0-3), Colm Hyde; Mark Quinn (0-1), Gearoid Barry (0-1), Gearoid Finn (0-4, 4f). Subs: Rickard Cahalane (0-1) for Barry (40) James Casey for O’Shea (57); Matthew McNamara for Quinn (59).
Donegal: Shaun McCafferty; Christopher Cunningham, James Coyle, Oisin Porter; Darragh Mulgrew, James Doherty, Kevin Herron; Raymond McNamee, Hugh McFadden; Owen McHugh (0-1), Paddy McBrearty (0-7, 5f), Cathal McGettigan; Kevin McNern, Brendan McLaughlin, Willie Gillespie. Subs: Ciaran Thompson for McGettigan (39); Seamus Houghton for McLaughlin (47).
Referee: Damien Brazil (Offaly)