Ulster U-20 Football Championship

Niall O'Donnell a class apart as Donegal completely out play Cavan

Tom Comack


Tom Comack



Shane O'Donnell a class apart as Donegal out completely outclass  Cavan

Patrick Dolan had a fine game at midfield for Donegal

Niall O’Donnell  turned in a man of the match performance and was a class apart as Donegal ran out eighteen point winners over Cavan, in Celtic Park.

DONEGAL …….. 2-21

CAVAN …………..0-10

O’Donnell who was in the news before the game was the talk of Celtic Park afterwards following his personal tally of 1-12, ten of them from placed balls. 

All the talk before the game was would he or would he not play and would he instead feature for Declan Bonner’s seniors against Derry, in the senior game. 

He was not named in the match programme. But he lined out in the number 11 jersey instead of Brian Diver.

Donegal completely outclassed the Breffni men who were light years behind in literally every position on the field.

Gary McDaid’s men made a big statement with this win and they now face Derry, next Sunday, in Omagh, in the quarter final.

Cavan a scored the first point through Conor Rehill inside ten seconds but Donegal took an early grip. And they led 0-3 to 0-1 after seven minutes.

Niall O'Donnell, Shane McGrath and O'Donnell hit the target again as Donegal, with Jason McGee and Patrick Dolan in command  in the middle of the field, signalled their early intent.

Man off the match O'Donnell, who started at corner forward but moved to centre forward,  began to conduct the orchestra up front.

Conor Smith hit Cavan's second point on nine minutes but Dolan from a free out on Donegal's right hand side and Peadar Mogan raiding on the left wing stretched dominant Donegal out to a 0-5 to 0-2 lead by the 11 minutes mark.

Stephen Smith kicked Cavan’s third at the end of the first quarter. But Donegal took complete control from then to the end of the half as they outscored Cavan 1-5 to 0-1.

Nathan Boyle  scored the goal five minutes from the half-time break. The Aodh Ruadh man drilled to the net after being sent clear with pinpoint accuracy with a 30 metre footpass from Niall O’Donnell.

Niall O’Donnell (3), Shane McDevitt and Oisin Gallen  hit the Donegal points with Stephen Smith landing Cavan’s only point of the quarter.

Cavan again scored the first point of the second half. But once again Donegal took over where they left off before half-time and they landed five points without response to open up a 1-16 to 0-5 lead ten minutes into the new half.

And they had moved  14 ahead by the time O’Donnell finished off a sweeping move to palm to the Cavan net for goal number two and a 2-19 to 0-8 lead, with just under nine minutes of normal time remaining.

0’Donnell and Peadar Mogan added the late points as Donegal won pulling up.  

DONEGAL: Eoin Boyle; Aaron Deeney, Mark Curran, Peter McEniff;  Nathan Boyle (1-0), Seaghan O'Fearraigh, Peadar Mogan(0-2); Jason McGee, Jason McGee, Patrick Dolan (0-1,f); Oisin Gallen (0-2), Odhran McFadden O'Fearraigh,Conor O'Donnell (0-1) Niall  O'Donnell (1-12,10f), Shane McDevitt (0-1); Shane McGrath (0-2).

Subs: Ryan Cunningham for N Boyle; Colm McFadden for S McDevitt both h/t; Timmy Govorov for O Gallen 40; Enda McCormack for J McGee 50; Stephen Carr for O McFadden Ferry (black card 52); Lanty Molloy for N O’Donnell 58.

CAVAN: Gary O’Rourke; Patrick O'Reilly, Luke Fortune, Finbar McAvinue; Conor O'Reilly (0-1), Conor Brady, Philip Rogers; James Smith (0-1), Conor Rehill; Luke Molloy (0-1) Thomas Edward Donohoe (0-1,1f), Stephen Smith (0-1,1f); Oisin Pierson (0-1), Conor Smith (0-2), Lee Reilly. Subs: Cian Madden (0-1) for Lee Reilly  h/t; Ryan O’Neill (0-1) for S Smith 44, Gavin Daly for C O’Reilly, Eoghan Cooney for L Reilly black card.

REFEREE; Paul McKeever (Antrim).