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Donegal too good for young Cavan side

Donegal proved there's more to them than Michael Murphy and blanket defence when opening their Ulster title defence with this facile 1-16 to 1-10 win over Cavan yesterday.

It was, almost literally, men against boys in Kingspan Breffni Park and Cavan's youngsters did quite well to finish within six points of them, three fewer than their meeting this time last year.

After the trauma of their mid-season management switch Cavan were a giant unknown beforehand but certainly came out fighting. Terry Hyland's young side threw down the gauntlet impressively, leading by two points within five minutes of throw-in and still level after the opening 20 minutes.


But then their inexperience told, they started making mistakes and discovered the lesson that copying Donegal is not as easy as it looks.

As their heads dropped and Donegal's superior skill, fitness and decision-making took over, the inevitable happened, the visitors pulled three points clear and then Paddy McBrearty was taken down for a 31st-minute penalty which Colm McFadden calmly slotted.

That sent them in six points up (1-7 to 0-4) at half-time and they extended it to nine only for a Cavan penalty, scored by substitute Niall McDermott with 10 minutes left, to halt their gallop.

The home side, heavy with U21s of the last three years, battled valiantly till the end but the result was never in doubt.

"It is hard to break them down, they come at you in waves, moving the ball in twos and threes," said Hyland.


"That's why we set ourselves up (defensively) in the first half, but to do that you had to be pretty physical and again we're not at that level yet."

"Defending champions means zero," stressed Donegal boss Jim McGuinness.

"It's irrelevant who we play any day, we know ourselves what we want to do, we're gauging ourselves against our own criteria.

"We're trying to move the thing forward," said the Glenties clubman.

"Not all games are played completely defensively or completely offensively, there's a lot that has to happen to make a complete performance come together," he noted.

"For good periods today we got what we wanted but there is stuff to work on."