McNelis strike crucial as Cavan lose minor crown
Donegal 1-11 Cavan 0-10 Ulster MFC
DONEGAL removed Cavan's Ulster crown with a composed display which included some slick football in this preliminary round tie at Breffni Park.
The game was delicately balanced with the visitors leading by just the odd point in 15 when they nicked the only goal of the game.
Cavan's defence was caught ball-watching when midfielder Brendan McNelis collected on the edge of the square and rifled the ball to the net in the 38th minute.
Cavan arguably won most of the battles but lost the war, with the adage of 'goals winning matches' coming into focus.
The hosts were spring-heeled in the opening five minutes and led by 0-3 to 0-0 at that juncture despite playing against the breeze.
After their hesitant start, Donegal slowly reeled in their opponents with goalscorer McNelis and target-man Gillespie particularly to the fore.
It was McNelis' point on the run in the 29th minute which extended his side's lead to 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval.
Cavan again hit the first three points on the restart but they couldn't sustain their attempts at a comeback.
SCORERS -- Donegal: B McNelis 1-1, R McHugh 0-4 (2f), W Gillespie, D Mulgrew 0-2 each, C Harkin, A McGinley 0-1 each; Cavan: C Madden 0-3, A Graham 0-2 (2f), S Gilcreest, N Walsh, E Flanagan, V Coyle and B Kiernan 0-1 each.
CAVAN -- S Rooney; A Watson, C Smith, F Reilly; B Fortune, C Brady, G Smith; M Argue, S Gilcreest; A Brown, J McCabe, E Flanagan; N Walsh, C Madden, A Graham. Subs: V Coyle for Brown (14); L Buchanan for McCabe (h-t), B Kiernan for Gilcreest (h-t), P Faulkner for Fortune (42).
DONEGAL -- D Mullarkey; G Kelly, C Parke, J Rose; S McBrearty, M Gallagher, D Mulgrew; B McNelis, R McNamee; C Harkin, J McGarvey, A McGinley; R McHugh, W Gillespie, E McHugh. Subs: H McFadden for McNelis (44); C Gallagher for McGinley (50); N Breslin for Gallagher (53); S Fitzgerald for Harkin (62).
REF -- N Cullen (Fermanagh)