GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final – Donegal 0-16 Cork 1-11

Magnificent Donegal power into final

Report from the GAA.ie web site

GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final: Cork 1-11 Donegal 0-16

Donegal will play in the All-Ireland football final on September 23 after securing a fully-deserved victory over Cork at Croke Park on Sunday. The Ulster champions were magnificent, playing an open, attacking style of football whilst also defending with true grit, discipline and skill.

The first half was extremely tight, with Donegal edging it by a single point, but they completely controlled the second half, with the foundations of their victory laid in a dominant spell in which they moved four clear of Cork shortly after the restart. Donegal were then in total control throughout the second half, and Cork looked like a beaten docket, but they managed to force in a late goal to cut the Donegal lead in injury time and leave just two points in it.

But it was a comeback in cosmetic terms only, as Donegal broke up the field immediately and won a late free, which soaked up the final few seconds and paved their path to the final. At the end of an absorbing opening 35 minutes, Donegal led by a point at 0-8 to 0-7. The first half was remarkably tight, and the sides were level seven times, with neither ever moving more than one point in front. Michael Murphy got Donegal off the mark with a close-range free before two good points from play from Paul Kerrigan and Paddy Kelly put Cork ahead. McFadden, who finished the game with 0-5, levelled with a free for Donegal and he then finished off a beautiful, flowing move to put the Ulster champions ahead, striking sweetly over after Murphy caught a long ball and laid it off to him in one fluid movement.

Then it really was a case of the counties just following each other over the bar. Goulding levelled at 0-3 each, Murphy put Donegal ahead, and then Ciarán Sheehan fisted over to level at 0-4 each. Rory Kavanagh kicked probably the point of the half to put Donegal ahead again, a lovely, curling effort from the right, but then a quickfire brace from the lively Colm O’Neill had Cork ahead again. Donegal were playing a much more attacking game than normal with McFadden, Murphy and Patrick McBrearty all operating very close to the Cork goal, and they finished the half the stronger of the two sides with good points from play from the brilliant Karl Lacey, David Walsh and the tireless Mark McHugh putting them in one ahead at the break.

Donegal started the second half extremely well, and driven forward by their dominating midfielders Gallagher and Kavanagh, moved into a four point lead shortly after the restart and began to move away from Cork for the first time. McFadden established the game’s first two-point lead with a lovely effort from play, and then two fine scores from defensive raiders Frank McGlynn and Lacey made it 0-11 to 0-7. Aidan Walsh stemmed the tide for Cork with a good kick from the right, but then Donegal broke down the field and created a clear goal chance. However, Rory Kavanagh’s effort was blocked out as far as Anthony Thompson, who clipped it over the bar.

The key moment in the second half from a Cork perspective came on 47 minutes when Colm O’Neill hit the bar from close range. It was inches from rippling the net, and if it had have gone in, the lead would have been down to just one point. But Donegal picked up the breaking ball off the bar and charged up the field again. They survived the scare, and never really looked back from there until the finish. Their defence began to purr at its optimum level, breaking down Cork attacks with ease, while they were carving out more and more chances up front, which were being converted with confidence and class.

The final 20 minutes truly belonged to Donegal, and when McFadden powered over a 45′ on 59 minutes, the gap was five points at 0-15 to 0-10. The lead remained five deep into injury-time, but Cork managed to grab the goal that had eluded them all game, but only when it was too late, O’Neill slotting past Paul Durcan to cut the gap to two. There was hardly any time left though, and when the final whistle came seconds later, it was greeted by joyous Donegal celebrations, as their fans began to contemplate the vista of a first All-Ireland final appearance since the sacred year of 1992.

Scorers for Cork: C O’Neill 1-3, C Sheehan 0-3, P Kerrigan 0-2, P Kelly 0-1, D Goulding 0-1 (1f), A Walsh 0-1

Scorers for Donegal: C McFadden 0-5 (2f, 1 45′), M Murphy 0-3 (3f), K Lacey 0-2, R Kavanagh 0-1, David Walsh 0-1, M McHugh 0-1, F McGlynn 0-1, A Thompson 0-1, M McElhinney 0-1

Cork: A Quirke; N O’Leary, M Shields, E Cadogan; P Kissane, G Canty, F Goold; A O’Connor, A Walsh; C Sheehan, P Kelly, P Kerrigan; C O’Neill, D O’Connor, Daniel Goulding.

Subs: P O’Neill for F Goold (HT), D O’Sullivan for A O’Connor (48), N Murphy for D O’Connor (56).

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson; N Gallagher, R Kavanagh; R Bradley, L McLoone, M McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden.

Subs: David Walsh for R Bradley (30), M McElhinney for R Kavanagh (59), Declan Walsh for F McGlynn (69), D McLaughlin for P McBreaty (72), C Toye for C McFaddden (72).

Attendance: 55,169