Donegal completed the three in-a-row of Ulster Vocational titles when they overcame Cavan in a well contested final in Brewster Park, Enniskillen.
In contrast to their facile win over Down in the semi-final, this was a much different contest with Cavan having periods of dominance and Donegal were fortunate to be a goal ahead at the break, 1-5 to 0-5.
Cavan were out of the blocks in quick time with two points on the board inside four minutes, the first from Jack Doyle and then Oisin Carolan.
Doyle looked to be a real threat for Cavan at corner forward, but Donegal then moved Jack Scally back from half-back to look after him and Doyle had departed the game before half-time, albeit helped by a hand injury.
But as manager, Joe McKelvey said afterwards, “when one of the Scally boys are marking you, you are going nowhere!”
Captain Cathal McGettigan, who led by example all day, got Donegal on the board on 10 minutes and almost immediately his midifield partner Patrick Gillespie had Donegal level.
Willie Gillespie burst through three tackles to fire Donegal ahead for the first time on 12 minutes and from the kick-out Conor Harkin tapped down to Gillespie, who put Harkin on his way and he found Cian Mulligan tearing through the middle to fire to the net for a very well worked goal.
David McCarron added a point but Cavan were far from finished as they should have had a goal on 22 minutes when Oisin Carolan found Killian McSherry with a great ball, but McSherry failed to control the ball and the chance was gone.
Fergal Reilly and John Carney had quickfire points for the Breffni men by the 24th minute to reduce the margin to three.
Late in the half Cathal McGettigan won and pointed a free while Killian McSherry converted a free at the other end to leave it Donegal 1-5, Cavan 0-5 at the break.
Within 90 seconds of the restart the sides were level as Conor Bradley, going for a point, saw his effort come back off the crossbar and Killian McSherry was in quickly to palm to the net.
Tomas Cooney put Cavan ahead on 38 minutes but Donegal responded very well with Conor Harkin winning a free and Cathal McGettigan levelled.
Then a moment of magic as Donegal turned over a ball outside the Cavan 20m line and Cian Mulligan flashed a quick foot pass to Willie Gillespie, all alone inside the Cavan rearguard and he calmly finished to the net.
Darragh O’Connor added a point and Willie Gillespie won and pointed a free to edge Donegal five clear.
But Cavan were still not finished and with five minutes left a long ball over the top evaded the Donegal defenders and Oisin Carolan stole in to fire to the net and reduced the margin to two.
Lorcan Connors added a good Donegal ponit to ease nerves on the sideline and in the stand but with a minute left Killian McSherry pointed a free, but Cavan were unable to make any further headway.
Overall Donegal were the better side with the Scally twins, Conor McCormack, Cathal McGettigan, Willie Gillespie, Conor Harkin and David McCarron very impressive.
Donegal: Luke Kelly; Owen Scally, Shaun McLaughlin, Joe Blaney; Lee O’Brien, Conor McCormack, Jack Scally; Patrick Gillespie (0-1), Cathal McGettigan (0-3,1f); Cian Mulligan (1-0), Willie Gillespie (1-2,1f), Conor Harkin; Lorcan Connors (0-1), Darragh O’Connor (0-1), David McCarron (0-1). Subs., Eoin McHugh for Blaney 34; Aaron Dalton for O’Brien 45.
Cavan: Ryan McCabe; Killian McEnroe, Ryan Craddock, Darren Donegan; John Carney (0-1), Shane McManus, Conor Smith; Fergal Reilly (0-1), Liam Buchanan; Oisin Carolan (1-1), Tomas Cooney (0-1), Killian McSherry (1-2,2f); Niall Farrell, Conor Bradley, Jack Doyle (0-1). Subs., Caolan Reilly for Doyle 29; Brian O’Connell for Smith 41; Aaron McIntyre for C Reilly 51; Damien O’Brien for Cooney 57.
Referee: Stephen McNamee (Tyrone)