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McBrearty efforts in vain as Cavan land three in a row

Cavan held off a Paddy McBrearty-inspired Donegal team to win their third Ulster U-21 title in a row last night.

Cavan looked comfortable when they led by 0-8 to 0-2 early in the second half but McBrearty, who entered the game on the back of allegations he was bitten by a Dublin player on Sunday, almost turned the game on its head.

He set up a 36th-minute goal for Willie Gillespie and hit four points in a 10-minute period to reduce the deficit to two points with seven minutes remaining.

But Cavan ensured they progress to an All-Ireland semi-final against Cork with two late points from Jack Brady and sub Paul Graham.

The defending champions scored the first three points inside the opening seven minutes with Chris Conroy and Gerry Smith scoring from play. Darach O'Connor got their first score in the 10th minute. Cavan's industry around the field was paying dividends and they scored another unanswered three points to lead 0-6 to 0-1.

McBrearty was starved of possession in the first half but came alive after the break.

CONTRIBUTION

His first real contribution was a goal chance in the 17th minute which he drilled across the goalkeeper and flashed wide.

And McBrearty ended an 18-minute scoring drought for Donegal with his first point two minutes before half-time.

However, the Breffni blues scored again before the interval, Smith's second long-range point leaving them 0-7 to 0-2 ahead at the break.

Odhran McNelis was involved in Donegal's goal five minutes into the second half as Willie Gillespie rose highest to flick McBrearty's ball over the 'keeper's head.

Cavan responded well to the set-back. A Jack Brady free was followed by one the best points of the game from the in-form Conroy from near the sideline.

McBrearty scored four of the next five points, starting with an instinctive long-range point with his trusty left boot.

The same player cut the deficit to 0-11 to 1-4 late on.

McBrearty then hit two points within a minute to reduce Cavan's lead to two points.

Jack Brady steadied Cavan's nerves with a late free and sub Paul Graham's late point kickstarted the three-in-a-row celebrations.

Scorers – Cavan: C Conroy, E O'Reilly (2fs), J Brady (3fs) 0-3 each, G Smith 0-2, P O'Connor, P Graham 0-1 each. Donegal: P McBrearty 0-5 (1f), W Gillespie 1-0, D O'Connor 0-1.

CAVAN – C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, K Clarke, C Brady; D McVitty, D Sexton, F Flanagan; B Sankey, M Argue; G Smith, C Conroy, T Mooney; E O'Reilly, P O'Connor, J Brady. Subs: C Madden for Conroy (52), P Graham for Mooney (55), J Dillon for O'Connor (59).

DONEGAL – P Boyle; K McFadden, C Ward, G Gallagher; P Carr, E McHugh, L Keaney; M O'Reilly, L Kelly; R McHugh, O McNelis, C Gibbons; W Gillespie, P McBrearty, D O'Connor. Subs: C Cannon for R McHugh (17), C Parke for Kelly (35), A O'Gara for E McHugh (41).

REF – C Branagan (Down).

Irish Independent