Sunday 23 September 2018

First half goals sink Fermanagh as Donegal claim first Ulster crown since 2014

Donegal 2-18 Fermanagh 0-12

24 June 2018; The Donegal team celebrate with the Anglo Celt Cup after the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Donegal and Fermanagh at St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
24 June 2018; The Donegal team celebrate with the Anglo Celt Cup after the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Donegal and Fermanagh at St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Donegal secured their ninth Ulster SFC title as they unlocked Fermanagh's mass defence at a sun-kissed Clones to run out comfortable 12-point winners and book their place in next month's Super 8s.

First-half goals from Eoghan Bán Gallagher and Ryan McHugh sent Declan Bonner's men on their way as they easily got the better of the Erne men, led by ex-Donegal manager Rory Gallagher.

After a cagey opening where Donegal seemed to be assessing the unique demands facing them, Michael Langan began to enjoy the freedom of the park and found a gap to kick over a fine point in the 14th minute to put them 0-2 to 0-1 ahead.

Donegal were dominating Patrick Cadden's long kick-outs and a brilliant team move saw Patrick McBrearty and McHugh slice through the Fermanagh defence before McHugh put the ball on a plate for Gallagher, who palmed to the net.

Gallagher ventured forward once more form corner-back to kick a fine point after another blistering Langan run as Fermanagh were struggling for traction at the other end.

Michael Murphy and Sean Quigley swapped frees before Paul Brennan sent over a booming point from distance. Erne captain Eoin Donnelly responded with their first point from play in the 30th minute but they were about to be a hit with another body blow.

The resultant kick-out was worked from Paul Brennan to McHugh, who showed his blistering pace to burn two Fermanagh defenders and fire to the roof of the net to put them eight up.

Quigley (free) and Ciaran Corrigan provided brief respite but McBrearty and Murphy restored their lead to leave them with a comfortable 2-7 to 0-5 half-time lead.

A further 11 points would follow in the second half with Ciarán Thompson leading the charge as Donegal coasted to their first Ulster title in four years despite the best efforts of Fermanagh's half-time substitute Seamus Quigley (who kicked three points).

DONEGAL – S Patton; P McGrath, S McMenamin, EB Gallagher; F McGlynn, P Brennan, R McHugh; H McFadden, M Murphy; L McLoone, M Langan, O Mac Niallais; C Thompson, P McBrearty, J Brennan.

Subs: D O Baoill for McBrearty inj (39), C Ward for P Brennan (57), A Thompson for Mac Niallais (61), C Mulligan for Langan (64), M McHugh for C Thompson (65), D O'Connor for J Brennan (68).

FERMANAGH – P Cadden; K Connor, C Cullen, M Jones; B Mulrone, J McMahon, L Cullen; E Donnelly, R Jones; P McCusker, D McCusker, A Breen; S Quigley, C Jones, C Corrigan.

Subs: E McHugh for Connor (33), C McManus for M Jones (half time black card), Seamus Quigley for P McCusker (half time), T Clarke for Corrigan (45), R Corrigan for Sean Quigley (57), D Teague for D McCusker (67).

REF – D Gough (Meath)

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