Thursday 21 June 2018

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Donegal cruise into Ulster final at expense of Down despite having Neil McGee sent off early on

Donegal 2-22 Down 1-12

Leo McLoone of Donegal, right, celebrates with Patrick McBrearty after scoring his side's first goal
Leo McLoone of Donegal, right, celebrates with Patrick McBrearty after scoring his side's first goal

Chris McNulty in Clones

Donegal swept Down aside in a one-sided Ulster semi-final despite having full-back Neil McGee sent off in the 13th minute.

Goals by Leo McLoone and Jamie Brennan gave this a lopsided feel and it was a game bossed from start to finish by Declan Bonner's men,.

Donegal were dealt a blow when McGee, just 90 seconds after being yellow carded, was shown a straight red card after a challenge with Connaire Harrison close to the sideline. The decision drew considerable anger from Donegal, who had already raced into an early four-point lead.

Donegal's response to the red card was superb as Declan Bonner's men kicked 1-4 before Down finally got off the board when Caolan Mooney opened his team's account in the 25th minute.

Leo McLoone finished for the Donegal goal three minutes earlier, firing home after Ciaran Thompson's effort rebounded back off the upright.

Donegal had 11 points to spare when the excellent Ryan McHugh curled over off the outside of his right foot.

Down had a mini purple patch that yielded three-in-a-row, but Donegal hit back when a monster Shaun Patton kick-out was fielded by Michael Murphy, whose off-load found the scampering McHugh for a score.

Donegal led by eight (1-12 to 0-7) at half-time and ten minutes into the second half, Brennan fired home a second Tir Chonaill goal.

Brennan hit the post with another Donegal goal chance, but the damage was long since inflicted and Donegal meet Fermanagh - and their former manager Rory Gallagher - in the final in two weeks' time.

Down had a late goal from midfielder Niall Donnelly, but it barely even raised a cheer.

Scorers: Donegal - J Brennan 1-3; P McBrearty (3f) 0-6; M Murphy (3f) 0-5; L McLoone 1-0; P Brennan, R McHugh 0-2 each; C Ward, C Thompson, S McMenamin, M McHugh 0-1 each

Down - N Donnelly 1-1 C Harrison, D O'Hare (3f) 0-4 each; C Maginn 0-2; C Mooney 0-1

Donegal - S Patton; P McGrath, N McGee, E Gallagher; C Ward, P Brennan, F McGlynn; H McFadden, M Murphy; C Thompson, R McHugh, L McLoone; P McBrearty, M Langan, J Brennan.

Subs: D Ó Baoill for Langan (44), O Mac Niallais for McLoone (49), C Mulligan for Thompson (49), S McMenamin for Gallagher (54), M McHugh for McGlynn (58),  E Doherty for P.Brennan (65).

Down - M Reid; C Flanagan, B McArdle, A Doherty; D O'Hagan, N McParland, C Mooney; P Turley, N Donnelly; K McKernan, C Maginn, S Millar; D O'Hare, C Harrison, R Millar.

Subs: R Johnston for R Millar (b/c, 21), R Wells for McParland (h/t), S Dornan for S.Millar (b/c, 36), D McKibben for Turley (55), J Flynn for McKibben (b/c, 66).

Ref - A Nolan (Wicklow)

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