NFL Division Two wrap: Donegal find extra gear to blow away Fermanagh

Cavan beat Cork away from home by a point

Allianz National Football League Division 2: Donegal 2-16 Fermanagh 0-8

Jim McGuinness drew a contented breath and surmised that Donegal are “learning more” the deeper they go into 2024.

With the Ulster Championship opener against Derry just two months hence, a 14-point win over Fermanagh, inspired by 2-3 off the boot of Daire O Baoill, represented another useful step in the right direction.

For around 40 minutes this one didn’t inspire and then Donegal found something.


O’Baoill outscored Fermanagh and his second-half brace of goals firmly extinguished any lingering notions the Erne men might’ve had after trailing by just a point, 0-6 to 0-5, at half-time.

“I think we looked leggy in the first half, so it was hard to achieve a fast game, but the longer it went on the more energy our lads had,” McGuinness said.

“We were challenged a lot and questioned a lot and we had to respond to that in the second half.

“We’re always trying to shake things up, that’s the name of the game. We’re looking at new things all the time and trying different things out, that involves going with different personnel too.”

Mark Curran and Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui came out for the second half, having been in the James McDaid Stand for the first, and were the early point scorers for a now purposeful-looking Donegal.

With goalkeeper Ross Bogue well out from his sentry, O Baoill took full advantage to fire in Donegal’s first goal six minutes into the second half. O Baoill finished from 40 metres with Bogue’s best recovery endeavours in vain.

In the 49th minute, again on a breakaway, O Baoill pounced again, rolling home after combining with Ryan McHugh.

Donegal were wasteful at times in the early moments at a venue at which they’d won just once in their last eight visits, but they scored 2-7 in the 29 minutes between Fermanagh’s first and second points of part two.

McGuinness, who also introduced Hugh McFadden for a first appearance of 2024, said: “We had to find a way of speeding the game up somehow.

“We as a team are learning more and more and we want to keep building from the starting 15 all the time. And players like Mark and Jeaic showed we can do that.

“Having all those players back, that’ll add more energy and vigour to the group as well. It’s important for everyone to know where they’re at and that they have competition for places in the squad.”

Kieran Donnelly, the Fermanagh manager, could be pleased with the first 40 minutes. The rest of it, not so.

“We took ball into contact when we didn’t need to and turnovers led to big scores,” Donnelly said.

“That was frustrating in that we left key scores behind us, but we just have to refocus now.”

Donegal: S Patton; K McGettigan, B McCole, S McMenamin; R McHugh, C Moore, D O Baoill (2-3); C Thompson, C McGonagle; P Mogan (0-1), O Doherty, M Langan (0-1); P McBrearty (0-3, one mark), O Gallen (0-3, two frees), J Brennan. Subs: M Curran (0-1) for McGettigan (h-t), A Doherty (0-2) for Brennan (h-t), J Mac Ceallabhui (0-2) for Thompson (38), L McGlynn for O. Doherty (57), D Mac Giolla Bhride for Langan (63).

Fermanagh: R Bogue; L Cullen, C Cullen, O Smyth; D McCusker (0-1, 1m), S McGullion, J Largo-Ellis; B Horan (0-1), J McDade; C McGee (0-1), R McCaffrey, C McShea; U Kelm, G Jones, S Cassidy (0-3, one free, one mark). Subs: T Bogue (0-1, one free) for McCaffrey (53), D King (0-1) for Jones (53), C McManus for Largo-Ellis (53), C Jones for Horan (61), J McMahon for McShea (70+2).

Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

Allianz National Football League Division 2: Cork 0-16 Cavan 0-17

The conversation around Cork football has switched from a promotion push to avoiding the Tailteann Cup after falling to a third consecutive Division 2 defeat against Cavan.

Oisín Brady’s 77th-minute fisted point sent the Ulster side home happy before Paddy Lynch’s ninth gave them a late cushion.

That meant Steven Sherlock had to go for goal from a 14-yard free in the ninth-added minute. His blast, however, was pushed over the bar in front of 3,533 fans at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Both sides finished with 14 after Luke Fahy (45th minute) and Pádraig Faulkner (64th) were sent off for picking up yellow and black cards as Cork failed to score from play in the second half.

The result strengthens Cavan’s bid for Sam Maguire football after two years in the Tailteann Cup, leaving them on four points from six. They are the only team in all four divisions yet to concede or score a goal in their three games.

Cork have been conceding far too much in their opening defeats and Cavan were able to prise them open three times inside 10 minutes. They opted for fisted points on each occasion, one from Ciarán Brady and a pair for O’Reilly.

Cork had their chances to break Cavan’s clean-sheet streak but Eoghan McSweeney palmed on to the crossbar.

There were setbacks on either side, with Killian Brady and Fahy both black-carded midway through the first half, while Cavan also lost James Smith to injury.

They traded four-in-a-row streaks to leave it 0-11 to 0-8 for Cork at the break.

Then came Cavan’s scoring burst. They kicked six points on the spin, either side of Fahy’s red, two from half-time substitute Cian Madden followed by four from Lynch (three frees).

A Mark Cronin 45 snapped Cork’s 16-minute scoreless spell before a pair of Sherlock frees brought them level by the 74th minute.

It was Cavan now who hadn’t scored for 25 minutes but they came up trumps at the death.

Cork: C Kelly; M Shanley, D O’Mahony, T Walsh; L Fahy, R Maguire, M Taylor (0-1); I Maguire, C O’Callaghan (0-1); E McSweeney, R Deane, B O’Driscoll (0-1); M Cronin (0-4, two 45s, one free), B Hurley (0-3, two frees), C Óg Jones (0-3).

Subs: S Powter for Cronin (56), F Herlihy for Deane (56), S Sherlock (0-3, three frees) for Hurley (60), D Cashman for Shanley (64), J Cahalane for McSweeney (70).

Cavan: G O’Rourke; O Kiernan (Denn), K Brady, J McLoughlin; P Faulkner, N Carolan, B O’Connell; K Clarke, J Smith; C Brady (0-1), G Smith (0-1), R O’Neill; P Lynch (0-9, six frees), R Donohoe, Caoimhín O’Reilly (0-2).

Subs: C Reilly for Kiernan (4-20, temporary), O Brady (0-1) for J Smith (24, inj), C Rehill (0-1) for O’Connell (29-h-t, temporary), Rehill for K Brady (h-t), C Madden (0-2) for Donohoe (h-t), T Madden for Caoimhín O’Reilly (66), Cormac O’Reilly for O’Neill (70+2), C Reilly for Carolan (70+5).

Referee: B Griffin (Kerry).

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