Sunday 8 December 2019

Breffni give Donegal the blues as McGleenan maintains fine start

Cavan 2-14 Donegal 1-6

Donegal’s Niall O’Donnell
Donegal’s Niall O’Donnell

Chris McNulty

Cavan's need was greater here as the Breffni men surged clear of Donegal's U-21s with a comfortable win to put them in the driving seat in this group.

Cavan have returned to Division 1 for 2017, with a clash against All-Ireland champions Dublin to welcome them back to the top table next month.

Manager Mattie McGleenan will be aiming to hit the ground running, while Donegal are more relaxed these days and have sent their U-21s into McKenna Cup combat.

Declan Bonner has a fine U-21 side at his disposal, but Cavan had a little too much guile for them in this contest, with second-half goals from substitutes Rory Dunne and Paul O'Connor giving them 11 points to spare.

It felt a tad skewed by the finish, as Donegal were level at the break, but Cavan outscored them 2-8 to 0-4 in the second period.

Cavan followed up a win over Tyrone last week by getting 11 different scorers on the board in Ballybofey to secure the second win of McGleenan's tenure.

Gerard Smith of Cavan in action against Niall O'Donnell of Donegal. Photo: Sportsfile
Gerard Smith of Cavan in action against Niall O'Donnell of Donegal. Photo: Sportsfile

"I want all guys to think about scoring," McGleenan said.

"That's the way the modern game is - you see it with Donegal and you see it with Tyrone, it's not just up to the six forwards to score.

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"We're still trying to find balance and we just want players to be as comfortable as possible on the ball. In the modern game you have to be fit to move around."

Cavan's first goal arrived in the 51st minute, substitute Dunne converting from close range at the back post after Turlock Mooney scuffed his initial shot.

Ciaran Gibbons of Donegal attempts to evade Killian Clarke of Cavan. Photo: Sportsfile
Ciaran Gibbons of Donegal attempts to evade Killian Clarke of Cavan. Photo: Sportsfile

Dunne's goal put five points between them and Cavan added another goal late in the game when O'Connor finished from Joshua Hayes' high ball.

Cavan had started the brighter with three points in the opening 10 minutes, two of them frees by Seanie Johnston - either side of Martin Reilly's score - which crept just over the crossbar.

Donegal had popped two early efforts into James Farrelly's hands before they finally got off the mark with a goal in the 18th minute.

Micheál Carroll's shot was blocked down, but the situation was read magnificently by Ethan O'Donnell and the Glenties man neatly tucked past James Farrelly.

O'Donnell had a sight of a second Donegal goal late in the half, but his shot bounced off Padraig Faulkner and went out for a 45.

Faulkner hit three points from full-back in the second-half as Cavan then started to move through the gears.

When Jason McGee, one of the Donegal debutants, raised the roof with a huge, long-range free, the fans had hope, but they evaporated when Dunne netted.

"I don't think that the scoreline was a reflection on the work we put in," Bonner said. "We knew that the legs would go and that the last 15 minutes would be tough."

Scorers - Donegal: E O'Donnell 1-0, A Neely 0-2 (1f), C Gibbons, M Carroll, J McGee (f), C Morrison 0-1 each. Cavan: S Johnston 0-4f, R Dunne, P O'Connor 1-0 each, P Faulkner 0-3, C Brady, M Reilly, G Smith, N McDermott (f) T Mooney, K Clarke, C Conroy 0-1 each

Donegal: D Doherty; C Morrison, S McMenamin, D Monagle; C Gibbons, K Gillespie, D Ó Baoill; T McClenaghan, M Carroll; C Doherty, M Langan, E O'Donnell; N O'Donnell, G McBride, A Neely. Subs: B McCole for Gillespie (19), J McGee for McBride (42), D Black for Neely (46), D Gallagher for E O'Donnell (53), N Ó Baoill for Langan (58), C Diver for Doherty (60).

Cavan: J Farrelly; F Reilly, P Faulkner, K Brady; C Brady, M Reilly, G Smith; J McCutcheon, T Corr; J Dillon, T Mooney, K Clarke; S Tierney, N McKiernan, S Johnston. Subs: N McDermott for Dillon (19), S Murray for Corr (31), R Dunne for Tierney (half-time), C Conroy for McKiernan (53), P O'Connor for Mooney (58), J Hayes for Smith (66)

Ref - B Cassidy (Derry).

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