GAA Football

On This Day in The Irish News: June 22, 1997: Carolan the hero for Cavan

Action from the 1997 Ulster semi-final clash between Cavan and Donegal.

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RONAN CAROLAN came in from the Championship cold to silence his critics with a magnificent goal and seven points as Cavan finally caught fire to qualify for next month's final with a 2-16 to 2-10 win over Donegal.

The forgotten star responded to being left on the sidelines for their previous two provincial games against Fermanagh with a performance rich in skill, glorious long-range accuracy when the match seemed to be passing them by, and inspirational invention to tear Donegal to shreads.

A lacklustre first half performance, perhaps the sign of battle fatigue after their marathon ordeal over the course of two difficult contests with Fermanagh, was transformed after the break.

And their dazzling, destructive, waywardly rampant avalanche of confident and cohesive attacking football left the ravaged remains of Donegal's greatest-ever All-Ireland Championship side, a team which McHugh weaved so much magic for during an incredible 1992 rise to glory, with no place to go but the breakers yard.

A crushing defeat, a beating that lacked the severity Cavan's second half rush of promised ruthlessness may have justified, its emphatic nature marks the end of the managerial line for PJ McGowan, and could spark wholesale retirements.

Cavan: P O'Dowd, C Brady, T Farrelly, D O'Reilly, G Sheridan, B Morris, P Shiels, S King, D McCabe, F Cahill, L Reilly, R Cunningham, P Reilly, R Carolan, M Graham

Subs: P Kermath for D O'Reilly, D O'Reilly for M Graham; A Forde for P Reilly.

Donegal: P Callaghan, P McGinley, JJ Doherty, S McEwen, M Crossan, N Hegarty, M Shovlin, B Murray, J Ruane, A Sweeney, J Bann Gallagher, J McGuinness, D Bonner, T Boyle, M Boyle

Subs: B Roper for A Sweeney, B McLaughlin for D Bonner, D Diver for J McGuinness

**

ANY Antrim observers at this Ulster SHC semi-final should have left Casement Park with more than a jot of optimism as Down squeaked their way past Derry, 1-15 to 1-10.

The Mournemen only pulled away from their spirited opponents in the final five minutes and, but for some wasteful shooting, especially from frees, the Derrymen could have been looking forward to a clash with the Saffrons on Sunday week.

Indeed, lack of a cutting edge was the dominant feature of this largely insipid encounter.

Down took the honours in the battle of the wides, amassing 18 over the 70 minutes, including 11 in the second-half.

The Oak Leafers recorded 12, dividing them equally between the periods.

Only Martin Coulter snr, better known as ‘Tom', emerged from the game with his reputation enhanced.

The Ballygalget half-back was simply superb for the duration, stifling Derry attacks and chipping in with three scores of his own.

Derry substitute Ollie Collins also performed capably when introduced early in the second-half, reviving his side's fortunes with a quick-fire goal and a point.

With eight minutes to go, the action was now feverish and exciting, belying everything that had passed in the previous hour.

A fantastic long-range score from the subdued Gerard McGrattan put the men from the peninsula in front, and Bailie, ‘Tom' Coulter, Gary Savage and Noel Sands sealed the victory.

Derry will regret wasting some gilt-edged chances, and Down know they must improve, especially at midfield, if they are to trouble Antrim in less than a fortnight's time.

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