Ethan O'Donnell fires to the Cavan net in Ballybofey
Cavan eased to the top of Section B of the Dr. McKenna Cup with a facile victory over Donegal at Sean MacCumhaill Park on Sunday.
Donegal . . . 1-6
Cavan . . . 2-14
The contrast in approach by the two counties towards this competition was all too evident as Donegal, once again fielding an all-U-21 team, succumbed to a heavy defeat.
After the game, Cavan manager Mattie McGleenan revealed how his team had come to Ballybofey with only one thing in mind and that was to win.
Their reward is almost certainly a place in the semi-finals and McGleenan said his team will now do their best to try and end his home county Tyrone’s dominance in the competition.
For Donegal, it was a difficult afternoon. Just what they’ll have learned from this heavy defeat is hard to tell. They found themselves under the cosh for much of this contest and while the sides were level at half time, the visitors looked so much stronger in all areas of the park.
Still Declan Bonner was happy with the effort of his players - and certainly this young side couldn't be faulted after a gutsy display.
Donegal showed five changes from their opening day defeat to UUJ. Goalkeeper Dylan Doherty, Ciaran Gillespie and Ciaran Gibbons were included along with Ethan O’Donnell and Adam Neely who both came on as substitutes in the first game.
The home side took a while to settle while in contrast, Cavan, buoyed by their opening day win over Tyrone, hit the ground running. Two Seanie Johnston frees and a delightful point from captain and centre half back, Martin Reilly, saw the visitors take command early on.
Donegal rarely ventured into attack. The couple of times they did threaten a score, their efforts dropped short into the keeper’s arms.
Donegal were struggling and 18 minutes in, they were still without a score. But then out of nothing, Declan Bonner’s side drew level. Carroll’s blocked down effort screwed into the arms of Ethan O’Donnell who did brilliantly to work enough space and fire low past James Farrelly in the Cavan goal.
The visitors’ response was immediate - Ciaran Brady giving them back the lead with a well taken score.
But Donegal’s tails were up and they were almost in for a second goal only for Adam Neely’s goalbound effort to deflect up and over the bar.
Michael Carroll, playing well at midfield, quickly followed that up with a fine score and suddenly Donegal were in front.
The home side looked to have found their rhythm and while they lost Ciaran Gillespie to what looked like an injury, they were a different side in the second quarter.
Niall O’Donnell got on plenty of ball at half forward and Michael Langan and Carroll were also prominent at midfield.
Cavan managed to draw level with a free from substitute Niall McDermott but in injury time at the end of the first half, the visitors had full-back Padraig Faulkner to thank for denying Ethan O’Donnell a second goal. The big No. 3 got his head in the way of the Glenties man’s powerful drive which looked bound for the back of the net. It meant the sides went in level at the break, 1-2 to 0-5.
Cavan however, began the second half just as they did the first. Two quick-fire points from Turloch Mooney and roving defender Faulkner saw them regain control. Johnston sent over his third free of the afternoon and Cavan were three ahead again.
Donegal were in need of a response and after Jason McGee was introduced in place of Gavin McBride, they hit back with two scores of their own. Conor Morrison, on a rare venture forward, did brilliantly to fist over after a neat inter-change with Langan. Then Neely knocked over a free from the hands eight minutes in to leave just a point in it.
But Cavan were able to shift through the gears again. Gerard Smith, the man who got their goal in their opening day win over Tyrone, sent the ball over from just inside the ‘45.
Cavan then went 0-10 to 1-4 in front when Killian Clarke ghosted along the end-line before palming the bar over the bar from close in.
McGee converted a long range free for Donegal. However, Cavan got the goal they had been threatening on 50 minutes when Turloc Mooney’s mis-hit effort bounced across goal and substitute Dunne had the simple task of converting to the net at the back post.
Donegal's Ciaran Gibbons marked his senior debut with a wonderful point as the game entered the final ten minutes. But from there-on-in Cavan were able to tag on further scores, among them a second goal, this time from substitute Paul O’Connor.
In the end, Cavan were worthy of their 11-point win.
The strange thing is, this game and the margin of victory will long be forgotten by the time these counties meet again in Division One of the National League in early March.
DONEGAL: Dylan Doherty, Conor Morrison (0-1), Stephen McMenamin, Danny Monagle; Ciaran Gibbons (0-1), Ciaran Gillespie, Daire O’Baoill; Tony McClenaghan, Michael Carroll (0-1); Conor Doherty, Michael Langan, Niall O’Donnell, Ethan O’Donnell (1-0), Gavin McBride, Adam Neely (0-2, 1f). Subs: Brendan McCole for Gillespie (20), Jason McGee (0-1, f) for McBride (41), Darragh Black for Neely (46), Daniel Gallagher for Ethan O’Donnell (52), Naoise O’Baoill for Langan (58), Ciaran Diver for Doherty (60).
CAVAN: James Farrelly; Fergal Reilly, Padraig Faulkner (0-3), Killian Brady; Ciaran Brady (0-1), Martin Reilly (0-1), Gerard Smith (0-1); John McCutcheon, Tomas Corr; Joe Dillon, Turloc Mooney (0-1), Killian Clarke (0-1); Shane Tierney, Niall McKiernan, Sean Johnston (0-4, 4f). Subs: Niall McDermott (0-1, f) for Dillon (20), Stephen Murray for Corr (30), Rory Dunne (1-0) for Shane Tierney (35), Christopher Conroy (0-1) for McKiernan (52), Paul O’Connor (1-0) for Mooney (58), Joshua Hayes for Smith (66)
REFEREE: Barry Cassidy (Derry).