By Diarmaid Doherty
Donegal produced a wonderful second half display to get the better of Cork in Saturday’s All Ireland Minor quarter-final at Croke Park
Trailing by four points at half time, Donegal were a completely different outfit after the break and hit 1-9 to Cork’s three points to ease to victory.
Sean Paul Barrett’s team looked to be in real danger at half time after Cork had dominated the first half. Cork led 0-10 to 1-3 at the break with Donegal midfielder Jason McGee’s goal ten minutes before the break proving so crucial.
However, if Donegal struggled in the first half, they were much the better side in the second and in the end, were comfortable winners.
Cork were well on top early on and while Peadar Mogan’s free equalised an early from Cork’s Damien Gone, Cork would then hit five points without reply.
Donegal deployed a two-man full forward pairing of Eoghan McGettigan and Niall O’Donnell but they were starved of any great supply.
Cork defended impressively and carried an attacking threat that brought some fine scores from Mark Buckley and Gore.
Leading 0-6 to 0-1, Cork’s lead was cut to just two on 26 minutes when Donegal’s Jason McGee was fed possession and hammered home past substitute goalkeeper, Kevin McMahon. It was Donegal’s first score in some 14 minutes and they quickly followed that up with a Niall O’Donnell free.
But Cork took control again and eased back into a five-point lead during another dominant period.
A number of their scores were delivered during seven minutes of injury time at the end of a first half. Those extra minutes followed a lengthy stoppage early on when medical personnel treated a nasty looking injury for Cork goalkeeper Mark White who was eventually stretchered off.
Donegal eventually went in four points down with the excellent Aidan McLaughlin kicking their first point from play on the stroke of half time.
Both teams made changes at half time with Shane McGrath introduced to the Donegal full-forward line. He would score Donegal’s second goal late on.
That goal came with only four minutes remaining by which stage Donegal had turned this game on its head.
Eleven minutes into the second half, they’d tied the game at 1-8 to 0-11, kicking five points to Cork’s one.
A Niall O’Donnell free on 43 put Donegal in front for the first time in the game and while Cathal O’Mahony equalised for Cork, the momentum was with Donegal and points from Eoghan McGettigan and Enda McCormick put them 1-11 to 0-12 ahead.
Alan McCarthy, Cork’s corner-back, was sent off for two yellow cards and it got worse for Cork when McGrath bundled home Donegal’s second goal to make it 2-12 to 0-13.
Peadar Mogan, who kicked Donegal’s opening point, also kicked their last, to round off another fantastic day for this impressive young outfit.
Donegal: Gavin Mulreany; Seaghan Ferry, Aaron McCrea, Mark Curran; Odhrán Shiels, JD Boyle, Aidan McLaughlin (0-2); Jason McGee (1-0), Kieran Gallagher; Nathan Boyle, Niall O’Donnell (0-5, 4f), Enda McCormick (0-2); Peadar Mogan (0-3 all frees), Eoghan McGettigan (0-1), Odhrán McFadden-Ferry.
Subs: Aaron Deeney for McCrea (30 +6), Shane McGrath (1-0) for Shiels (half time), Brian O’Donnell for JD Boyle (53), Gary Molloy for McFadden-Ferry (63).
Cork: Mark White; Alan McCarthy, Aidan Browne, Liam O’Donovan; Sean Minihane, Nathan Walsh, Rory O’Driscoll; Cathal Foley, Tadhg Corkery (0-1); Chris Óg Jones, Colm O’Callaghan (0-1), Cathal Maguire (0-1); Damien Gore (0-4, 3f), Mark Buckley (0-5, 1’45), Sean O’Sullivan.
Subs: Kevin McMahon for White (11), Sean Ryan for Minihane (half time), Cathal O’Mahony (0-1, f) for Maguire (44), Jason Twomey for O’Driscoll (45), Ryan Fowley for O’Sullivan (49), Luke Fahy for Jones (53).
Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo).