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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 September, 2018
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Good afternoon, and what an afternoon it is, as provincial silverware is down for decision at a gloriously sunny Clones.

Eight-time winners Donegal are back in the Ulster senior football championship final and are chasing a first title since 2014, while Fermanagh are bidding to win the crown for the first time.

The atmosphere has been building around the town all morning and St Tiernach’s Park is awash with colour. We get underway at 2pm.

TEAM NEWS: Here’s how the sides will line up this afternoon. Donegal, appearing in their seventh Ulster final in eight years, are strong favourites.

Fermanagh:

1. Patrick Cadden

2. Kane Connor
3. Che Cullen
4. Michael Jones

5. Barry Mulrone
6. James McMahon
7. Lee Cullen

8. Eoin Donnolly
9. Ryan Jones

10. Paul McCusker
11. Declan McCusker
12. Aidan Breen

13. Sean Quigley
14. Conall Jones
15. Seamus Quigley

Donegal:

1. Shaun Patton

2. Paddy McGrath
3. Caolan Ward
4. Eoghan Bán Gallagher

5. Frank McGlynn
6. Paul Brennan
7. Ryan McHugh

8. Hugh McFadden
9. Leo McLoone

10. Cian Mulligan
11. Michael Langan
12. Ciaran Thompson

13. Patrick McBrearty
14. Michael Murphy
15. Jamie Brennan

Arlene Foster has arrived at Clones.

We’ve had the anthem, and we’re just about set for the off in Clones.

Two late changes to tell you about on the Donegal side. Stephen McMenamin and Odhran MacNiallais start in place of Caolan Ward and Cian Mulligan.

THROW-IN! We’re up and running in Clones. Can Donegal justify their favourites tag and reign supreme in Ulster again, or will it be a history-making afternoon for Fermanagh?

2Mins

2 mins — Donegal 0-0 Fermanagh 0-0

A slow, tense start to proceedings in Clones. Fermanagh, as expected, have settled into their rigid defensive system early on and Donegal have been met with a wall of green shirts. We’re not going to have an expansive final, unfortunately.

7Mins

7 mins — Donegal 0-0 Fermanagh 0-1

After seven tight, scoreless minutes, Fermanagh have drawn first blood after Ryan Jones was fouled by Leo McLoone. Sean Quigley makes no mistake from the free and we have our first point of the day.

8Mins

8 mins — Donegal 0-1 Fermanagh 0-1

Donegal hit back straight away, and it’s a superb point from Odhrán Mac Niallais. He struck it sweetly from range off his left foot and the ball sailed over the bar. We’re level again.

9Mins

10 mins — Donegal 0-1 Fermanagh 0-1

After his fine point a few minutes ago (watch below), Odhrán Mac Niallais is off target with his second attempt. Ciaran Corrigan was down receiving treatment there for a minute but he’s okay to continue.

14Mins

13 mins — Donegal 0-1 Fermanagh 0-1

It’s been a difficult watch so far, with both sides employing defensive structures and at times the contest has been reduced to walking pace. We’ve had just two points in the opening 13 minutes, with Donegal struggling to figure a way out to break down this Fermanagh rearguard.

14Mins

15 mins — Donegal 0-2 Fermanagh 0-1

A glimpse of space! And Michael Langan takes full advantage as he surges through the midfield channel and knocks it over the bar. That was better.

Flag 15Mins

16 mins — GOAL! Donegal 1-2 Fermanagh 0-1

Much, much better from Donegal and they’ve hit their stride. Ryan McHugh cuts Fermanagh open down the left and he picks out the supporting Eoghan Bán Gallagher, who had got forward from corner back to palm the ball into the net.

19Mins

19 mins — Donegal 1-2 Fermanagh 0-1

Donegal have settled now and they’re dominating the contest, particularly in the middle of the park. Patrick McBrearty has the chance to extend their lead but he misses from a free, but Conall Jones is also off target at the other end. It’s now 12 minutes since Fermanagh have scored.

22Mins

22 mins — Donegal 1-3 Fermanagh 0-1

Eoghan Bán Gallagher follows up his goal with a point after another raiding run forward.

25Mins

25 mins — Donegal 1-4 Fermanagh 0-1

Michael Murphy opens his account with a sweetly-struck free after McHugh was fouled. My word, Fermanagh are so limited.

26Mins

26 mins — Donegal 1-4 Fermanagh 0-2

They’ve got their second point, at least. Quigley knocks over another free and the Fermanagh fans have something — anything — to cheer about.

27Mins

27 mins — Donegal 1-5 Fermanagh 0-2

Fermanagh can’t get their hands on the ball at all and Donegal are moving it around with pace and precision. Paul Brennan dissects the posts for his first point of the day.

Flag 30Mins

30 mins — GOAL! Donegal 2-5 Fermanagh 0-3

That’s a superb run and finish from Ryan McHugh as he destroys the Fermanagh blanket defence by running at the heart of it with pace and power. The Donegal man then fires it high into the net from a tight angle.

32Mins

32 mins — Donegal 2-5 Fermanagh 0-5

Fermanagh have eventually realised their game plan isn’t working and have thrown a few more bodies forward. Quigley scores his third of the day and then Ciaran Corrigan registers his side’s fifth.

35Mins

35 mins — Donegal 2-6 Fermanagh 0-5

Two minutes of added time at the end of the first half.

36Mins

35 + 1 mins — Donegal 2-7 Fermanagh 0-5

Bit of action right at the end of the half. Mickey Jones receives a black card and then Michael Murphy points from the free to extend Donegal’s lead.

Flag 36Mins

Half-time! Donegal 2-7 Fermanagh 0-5

And the referee blows the half-time whistle, with Donegal in complete control thanks to goals from Eoghan Bán Gallagher and Ryan McHugh.

45Mins

“Arlene Foster can go home and tend to business. The game is over and Donegal can win by as much as they want.”

Can we all go home?

49Mins

Joe Brolly has branded this game a ‘farce’. The teams are back out for the second half in Clones.

36Mins

We’re back underway in Clones.

38Mins

37 mins — Donegal 2-8 Fermanagh 0-5

Donegal are up and running in the second half and it’s that man Paul Brennan — excellent again today — who knocks it over.

39Mins

38 mins — Donegal 2-8 Fermanagh 0-5

Fermanagh made a change at the break, by the way, with Seamus Quigley replacing Paul McCusker.

38Mins

38 mins — Donegal 2-8 Fermanagh 0-5

Patrick McBrearty, who picked up that knock in the first half, is also going off to be replaced by Daire Ó Baoill

40Mins

40 mins — Donegal 2-8 Fermanagh 0-6

Instant impact from Seamus Quigley as he nails a superb point off his left to reduce the deficit to eight points.

41Mins

41 mins — Donegal 2-8 Fermanagh 0-6

Are Fermanagh coming back into the game? A long ball drops into the Donegal box and it’s a bit of a scramble before the referee awards a free out.

44Mins

45 mins — Donegal 2-9 Fermanagh 0-7

Donegal go down the other end and the ball is in the back of the net but Paddy McGrath’s effort is ruled out because he was in the square when finishing Jamie Brennan’s square ball.

Sean Quigley has just pointed against for Fermanagh, before Ciaran Thompson responds.

51Mins

51 mins — Donegal 2-10 Fermanagh 0-8

A dog is after making its way onto the pitch and has forced play to be delayed for a minute — it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened all afternoon, let’s be honest.

When play does resume, Donegal extend their advantage.

54Mins

54 mins — Red card! Donegal 2-10 Fermanagh 0-9

Just as Fermanagh were beginning to ask a few questions of the Donegal defence, Ryan Jones receives his second yellow of the day for a high challenge and they’re down to 14 men.

60Mins

60 mins — Donegal 2-13 Fermanagh 0-9

Ciaran Thompson adds another point to Donegal’s tally and they’re cruising in the Clones sun now.

61Mins

61 mins — Donegal 2-14 Fermanagh 0-10

Paddy McGrath on the mark for Donegal after a surging run. He could have gone for goal but opted to fist it over the bar, before Ruairi Corrigan goes down the other end and adds a point for Fermanagh.

70Mins

70 mins — Donegal 2-16 Fermanagh 0-12

Into injury time in Clones.

73Mins

70 + 3 mins — Donegal 2-17 Fermanagh 0-12 

Brilliant point from the evergreen Michael Murphy. Donegal are minutes away from a ninth Ulster SFC title.

70Mins

Full-time! Donegal 2-18 Fermanagh 0-12

Donegal are the Ulster champions again, and were full deserving of their victory this afternoon as they comfortably saw off Fermanagh in Clones.

71Mins

Thanks for joining us this afternoon, we’ll have a match report from Clones shortly, while you can follow live coverage of the Leinster SFC final between Dublin and Laois from Croke Park here.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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