Donegal annihilate Down to set up a unique Ulster final against Fermanagh

Declan Bonner's side win easy - even with 14 men

Peter Campbell


Peter Campbell

Donegal annihilate Down to set up an unique Ulster final against Fermanagh

Patrick McBrearty on the ball for Donegal. Photo Thomas Gallagher

It was a walk in the park for Donegal as they annihilated Down in the second of the Ulster semi-finals to set up a first ever Ulster final meeting with neighbours Fermanagh.

Donegal 2-22
Down 1-12

It was much easier than expected for Declan Bonner's charges and he can expect it to be much tougher against Rory Gallagher's side in the final.
Donegal played most of this game with 14 men after Neil McGee was shown red on 13 minutes after a clash with Connaire Harrison. It looked harsh as the Down man collided with his own man as they contested a ball and the Donegal management were far from happy with the linesman, who seemed to make the decision.
However, the loss didn't seem to deter Donegal and for long periods it looked as if they had the extra man.
The game was played in front of 12,051 with plenty of open spaces in St. Tiernach's Park.
Donegal got off to the perfect start with four points in 11 minutes as they dominated everywhere.
Paul Brennan fisted them in front in a minute and Ryan McHugh was fouled twice for points for Michael Murphy and Patrick McBrearty while Caolan Ward added the fourth after good work by Murphy.
Then came a big talking point as Neil McGee was shown a straight red after Down's Connaire Harrison collided with his own man. Just before that Harrison and McGee had been yellow carded.
The red card had no effect on Donegal as they continued to dominate with points from Murphy (free), McBrearty and Murphy with his left.
Down lost Ronan Millar to a black card after a third man tackle on Ryan McHugh, who the Mourne men seemed to be targeting.
Donegal were in complete control on 22 minutes when Ciaran Thompson's effort for a point came back off a post and Leo McLoone showed great composure to twist and fire to the net for a 1-7 to 0-0 lead.
Ryan McHugh added another point with the outside of his right before Down got their first score on 24 minutes 40 seconds from Caolan Mooney.
The point seemed to inspire Down and they outscored Donegal 6-3 in the remaining 15 minutes played. Their points came from Connaire Harrison (3)(who was revelling in his new found freedom with Neil McGee missing), Donal O'Hare (2) and Conor Maginn, while Ryan McHugh, Jamie Brennan and Ciaran Thompson found the range for Donegal to leave them 1-12 to 0-7 at half-time.
Donegal's domination returned in the second half as Murphy and McBrearty (2) stretched the lead before Donegal added the second goal and it was a thing of beauty. Hugh McFadden broke the ball at midfield and Ciaran Thompson found Ryan McHugh in space and he set up Jamie Brennan for a tap in.
Brennan added a point within a minute with his left before Down got their first point of the second half on 48 minutes from Donal O'Hare. Paul Brennan added his second for the day before Harrison made it 2-17 to 0-9 with 53 minutes played.
There was almost a third goal after a great ball from Paul Brennan to his Bundoran clubmate Jamie, but his effort came back off the butt of the post.
After that the game was trundling to an inevitable conclusion. Donegal should have had a third goal when Odhran MacNiallais and Jamie Brennan set up Stephen McMenamin but he palmed over the bar from under the crossbar.
They got another chance on the stroke of full-time when Hugh McFadden fielded a high ball and set up Jamie Brennan but he first timed just over.
Niall Donnelly had a point for Down in added time while Mark McHugh replied when he could have gone for goal.
Down got a consolation goal with the last kick through Niall Donnelly.

Scorers - Donegal: Patrick McBrearty 0-6,3f; Jamie Brennan 1-3; Michael Murphy 0-5,3f; Leo McLoone 1-0; Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh 0-2 each; Caolan Ward, Stephen McMenamin, Ciaran Thompson, Mark McHugh 0-1 each.
Down: Niall Donnelly 1-1; Donal O'Hare 0-4,3f; Connaire Harrison 0-4; Conor Maginn 0-2; Caolan Mooney 0-1.

DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Caolan Ward, Paul Brennan, Frank McGlynn; Hugh McFadden, Michael Murphy; Ciaran Thompson, Leo McLoone, Ryan McHugh Patrick McBrearty, Michael Langan, Jamie Brennan.
Subs., Daire O Baoill for Langan 43; Odhran Mac Niallais for McLoone, Cian Mulligan for Thompson, both 49; Stephen McMenamin for Ban Gallagher 54; Mark McHugh for McGlynn 57; Eamonn Doherty for P Brennan 65
DOWN: Marc Reid; Colm Flanagan, Brendan McArdle, Anthony Doherty; Darren O'Hagan, Niall McParland, Caolan Mooney; Peter Turley, Niall Donnelly; Kevin McKernan, Conor Maginn, Shay Millar; Donal O'Hare, Connaire Harrison, Ronan Millar.
Subs., Ryan Johnston for R Millar bcard 23; Ruairi Wells for N McParland ht; Sean Dornan for R Millar bcard 37; Conor Poland for Doherty 49; David McKibbin for P Turley 55; Jonny Flynn for McKibbin bcard 65

REFEREE: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)