Late fightback sees continuation of Cavan dominance

Donegal caught late in Ulster under-21 final at Athletic Grounds

Cavan 2-6
Donegal 0-8

Cavan rallied from two points down and staged a late fightback to win their fourth Ulster under-21 football title in a row, hitting an unanswered 1-3 in the last four minutes to floor Donegal.

Points from cousins Ryan and Eoin McHugh had put Donegal ahead for the first time in the Athletic Grounds with five minutes remaining as they looked to be closing in on a first provincial crown since 2010.

Extend domination
However a goal from midfielder Liam Buchanan in the 59th minute, followed by points from Michael Argue, Joe Dillon and Barry Fortune, saw Cavan extend their domination at this grade.

Swarm defences were on top in a low-scoring first half, with Cavan leading by 1-2 to 0-2 at the break.

Cavan’s Joe Dillon eluded the Donegal defence in the 18th minute and stuck the ball in the back of the net.


Cavan captain Conor Moynagh received a black card from the referee, on the advice of an assistant referee, after an off the ball incident with Eoin McHugh in the 22nd minute.

The scores were not any easier to come by in the second half, but Donegal were starting to win more possession around the middle and their confidence grew.

Their best hope of beating the blanket defence was to kick long-range points and midfielder Hugh McFadden landed one from around 47 metres in the 39th minute.

With a great sense of timing, Patrick McBrearty scored his first point from play to level the scores with 10 minutes remaining. It was the first time the sides had been level since the 18th minute.

Ryan McHugh’s long-range point put Donegal ahead for the first time in the game with five minutes remaining. Eoin McHugh stretched Donegal’s lead to two points but Cavan rallied for the win.

CAVAN: J Farrelly; B Fortune (0-1), K Clarke, P Faulkner; G Smith, C Moynagh, C Brady; L Buchanan (1-0), M Argue (0-1); P Graham, E Flanagan, A Watson; D McVetty, K Bouchier (0-3, 0-3 frees), J Dillon (1-1, 0-1 free). Subs: A O'Hara for Moynagh (black card , 22 mins), T Hayes for Bouchier (40 mins), E Hession for Flanagan (47 mins).
DONEGAL: J Coll; C Brennan, C Parke, A McCloskey; M O'Reilly, R McHugh (0-1), G Gallagher; H McFadden (0-1), C Thompson; D Mulgrew, P McBrearty (0-4, 0-3 frees), E Doherty; D O'Connor, W Gillespie (0-1), E McHugh (0-1). Subs: C Cannon for McCloskey (38 mins), J O'Malley for Doherty (52 mins).
Referee: Cathal O'Hagan (Tyrone).