Winless Cavan were their own worst enemies as they were out-classed by a savvy and slick Donegal side in a lop-sided NFL Division One clash at Kingspan/Breffni Park.
The basement side took 22 minutes to open their account after their opponents meandered into a 0-5 to 0-0 lead. The dismissal of Cavan captain Killian Clarke just after the half-hour mark had the words ‘sinking’ and ‘ship’ ricocheting off the rafters of the packed stand.
Two Michael Murphy frees and howitzers apiece for Ciaran Thompson (9) and Eoin McHugh (12) had Cavan trailing by 0-0 to 0-5.
The blues’ near-comatose beginnings and their failure to anticipate Michael Murphy’s quick free from 40 metres which led to Ryan McHugh feeding Hugh McFadden for another Donegal point (26) was inexcusable.
Going forward, Cavan’s approach play was much too lateral also; playing into the hands of a Donegal side happy to string 13 men behind the ball at the merest whiff of trouble.
Donegal got a helping hand on their way with Clarke’s dismissal, and the visitors’ 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead was less than flattering.
Eoin McHugh’s peach of a goal three minutes after the restart making it a seven-point game on the back of McFadden’s gem (36).
A point apiece from McKiernan and Ciaran Brady served to re-ignite the interest, however temporarily, of the Cavan fans in the 6,545-strong crowd.
Donegal could afford to drop down a couple of gears in the final quarter as Cavan heads dropped in tandem with the temperature.
The run-in to the chequered flag was pedestrian and lacking any sort of spark of ingenuity from either party.
Cavan’s woes were complete when they found themselves unable to replace the black-carded Cian Mackay with seven minutes left to play.
Scorers — Donegal: C Thompson (1f) 0-5; E McHugh 1-1; J Brennan, M Murphy (3f) 0-3 each; F McGlynn, H McFadden, M McHugh; R McHugh 0-1 each. Cavan: S Johnston (2f), G McKiernan 0-3 (1f) each; C Madden, D McVeety 0-2 each; C Brady 0-1.
Donegal: M A McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, E B Gallagher; C Ward, F McGlynn, E McHugh; J McGee, C Thompson; M Carroll, M O’Reilly, R McHugh; H McFadden, M Murphy, D O’Connor. Subs; J Brennan for D O’Connor (h-t); D McLaughlin for M Carroll (47); M Langan for J McGee (49); E Doherty for H McFadden (55); M McHugh for E McHugh (65); P Brennan for E B Gallagher (67).
Cavan: R Galligan; F Reilly, P Faulkner, K Brady; Martin Reilly, C Brady, G Smith; K Clarke, T Corr; M Argue, D McVeety, C Madden; N Clerkin, G McKiernan, S Johnston.
Subs: R Dunne for T Corr (14); S Murray for K Brady (h-t); N Murray for M Argue (h-t); C Mackey for S Johnston (44); J Dillon for F Reilly (56); J McCutcheon for C Brady (58).
Ref: C Lane (Cork).