HOLDERS Donegal just got the better of Down in a thrilling semi-final in Enniskillen.
Down got off to a whirlwind start with a goal inside 80 seconds from Paul McComiskey. Donegal got back in the game however, with Edward Kelly availing of a mistake in the Down defence to sidefoot the ball into the net.
McComiskey had his third pointed free on the stroke of half-time to leave Down ahead by 1-5 to 1-4 at the break. Donegal then clocked up five points in eight minutes to go four clear. Down called in Martin Clarke and Brendan Coulter, but Colm McFadden kept Donegal in front and after Adrian Hanlon put them three clear with minutes left, they held on.
Scorers -- Donegal: C McFadden 0-5 (0-3f), A Hanlon 0-4, E Kelly 1-0, A Concarr 0-2 (0-2f), K Cassidy, L McLoone 0-1 each. Down: P McComiskey 1-5 (0-4f), J Clarke 0-3, M Clarke 0-2 (0-1f), D Gordon, R Murtagh 0-1 each.
Donegal -- L McFadden; J Keaney, N McGee, P McDaid; E Waide, F McGlynn, K Cassidy; F McNulty, N Gallagher; E Kelly, D Walsh, L McLoone; A Hanlon, C McFadden, G Concarr. Subs: P Durcan for McFadden; C Dunne for N Gallagher; R Wherity for Concarr.
Down -- B McVeigh; S Toner, C Garvey, M Cole; S Parr, B McArdle, K Duffin; P Fitzpatrick, C King; D Gordon, M Poland, R Murtagh; P McComiskey, J Clarke, R Sexton. Subs: A Rogers for Fitzpatrick; S Kearney for Toner; D Hughes for Parr; M Clarke for Poland; B Coulter for Sexton
Ref -- P Hughes (Armagh).