Donegal maintain their 100 per cent record in McKenna Cup campaign

Donegal's Michael Langan scored nine points in his side's win over Cavan Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Gerry McLaughlin

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section A: Donegal 1-20 Cavan 1-12

A SUPERB scoring burst just before half-time from Donegal’s elegant full-forward Michael Langan was the catalyst for this deserved victory for Donegal against a battling Cavan side in Ballybofey.

Langan landed five points in the space of eight minutes in the run up to half-time, including four in-a-row to put his side into a 0-10 to 0-6 half-time lead after a lively first half.

But youthful Cavan made sure the favourites did not have matters all their own way as they made light of the absence of corner-back David Phillips, who was red-carded following an incident with Donegal’s livewire corner-forward Jamie Brennan after just eight minutes.

Donegal’s Ryan McHugh was back in his familiar number five jersey for the first time since they lost to Tyrone in the Super 8s.

For Cavan, the towering Michael Argue was a key figure in midfield and had a fine tussle with Hugh McFadden and Jason McGee.

Mickey Graham threw on Martin Reilly as a last-minute replacement to beef up Cavan’s chances.

Read more: Armagh beat Monaghan to set up Donegal date

McHugh was quickly into action setting up Langan who hit a high soaring point to open the home side’s account after just two minutes.

Cavan immediately had a half chance of a goal but impressive corner-forward Conor Madden scuffed the ball wide. He quickly atoned for this miss with a swift point.

Niall O’Donnell regained the lead for Donegal with a superbly struck left-footed shot from the sideline in the fifth minute.

Cavan suffered a heavy blow when they lost corner-back David Phillips to a straight red card after a challenge that grounded Donegal’s jinking Jamie Brennan.

Brennan then landed the next two points for the home side to put them into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 10th minute. But they failed to score for another 12 minutes as the Breffniemen settled and exposed some gaps in the home side’s defence.

Pierce Smith began the revival in the 13th minute.

Cavan ’keeper Raymond Galligan, who was keen to join the fray at every available chance, then narrowed the gap to the minimum with a free from 45 metres.

Then Madden scored the point of the half in the 20th minute when he dummied two Donegal defenders and hit a glorious effort with the outside of the boot to level matters at 0-4 each.

But it was then that the languid Langan sprang to life with the first of six first half points. Niall O’Donnell added another within a minute as the momentum swung back to Donegal.

Langan then went on to hit four points on the trot with Madden and Paul Graham responding for Cavan as Donegal led by 0-10 to 0-6 at half-time.

Martin McElhinney and Jamie Brennan swiftly tagged on two points on the resumption to stretch the home side’s lead to 0-12 to 0-6.

And they were never really troubled in the second half as Jamie Brennan and man of the match Langan continued to tag on the scores.

And the issue was well sealed in the 58th minute when Jamie Brennan burrowed his way through-lost possession briefly and then let fly with a half volley to put Donegal into a 1-16 to 0-9 lead.

Cavan threatened to score against a sometimes shaky Donegal full-backline and were rewarded in the 68th minute when substitute Kevin Tierney punched home.

It was too little too late as Donegal edged home for a deserved victory to set up a semi-final with Armagh.

Read more: Armagh beat Monaghan to set up Donegal date

Donegal: S Patton; C Ward, B McCole, C Morrison; P Brennan, E Doherty, M McElhinney (0-1); H McFadden, J McGee; R McHugh (0-1) N O’Donnell (0-3), C McGonigle; M O’Reilly, M Langan (0-9, 0-4 frees), J Brennan (1-4).

Subs: P Mogan for P Brennan (47), J Campbell for M O’Reilly (53), O Gallen (0-2), for M McElhinney (57), P Dolan for R McHugh (64)

Yellow card: H McFadden (43)

Cavan: R Galligan (0-1 free); D Phillips, P Faulkner, J McLoughlin; C Brady, M Reilly C Reihill; M Argue, J Galligan; P Graham (0-2) S Smith, P Smith (0-2, 0-1 free); C Bradley, J Smith, C Madden (0-3).

Subs: C Moynagh for C Faulkner (15), L Fortune (0-2) for J Smith (h-time), N Clerkin for J Galligan (42), C Mackey (0-2) for P Smith (49) K Tierney (1-0), for S Smith (52)

Yellow card: M Argue (17)

Red card: D Phillips (7)

Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone)

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