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All-Ireland SFC 2012: Donegal’s route to the final

Revisit how the Tir Conaill men fared in this year’s championship.

Sunday, May 20: Ulster Championship, preliminary round – Cavan 1-10 DONEGAL 1-16 (Breffni Park)

Neil Gallagher attempts to get away from Cavan’s Jason McLoughlin. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Donegal made the trip to Cavan for their first Ulster championship encounter of 2012 and recorded a six-point win at Breffni Park with Colm McFadden having a major say in the result. The home side were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead during the early exchanges but the Tir Conaill men soon found their feet and after McFadden’s 32nd-minute penalty, went into half-time with a 1-7 to 0-4 lead. Niall McDermott scored from the spot for Cavan in the second half but the provincial champions marched on knowing there was still room for improvement.

Cavan: J Reilly; K Clarke, P O’Reilly (capt), K Meehan; J McLoughlin, D Reilly, M McKeever; D Givney (0-2), G McKiernan (0-1); F Flanagan, R Flanagan, R Moloney-Derham; J Brady (0-1), E Keating (0-5), B Fitzpatrick. Subs: T Corr for Maloney-Derham, N McDermott (1-1) for Fitzpatrick, N Smith for F Flanagan, K Tierney for McKeever, R Galligan for Brady.

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee (0-1), F McGlynn (0-1); A Thompson, K Lacey, Declan Walsh; R Kavanagh (0-3), N Gallagher (0-1); R Bradley, David Walsh, M McHugh (0-2); L McLoone (0-2), C McFadden (1-6), P McBrearty. Subs: M O’Reilly for Bradley, M McElhinney for David Walsh, D Molloy for Gallagher.

Saturday, June 16: Ulster Championship, quater-final – DONEGAL 2-13 Derry 0-9 (Ballybofey)

Colm McFadden celebrates scoring Donegal’s second goal. Credit: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Next up for Jim McGuinness’ side was a meeting with neighbours Derry, who were expected to make for stiffer opposition in a repeat of the 2011 Ulster SFC final. That never materialised however, as the Oakleafers gave a poor showing of themselves and Donegal controlled the game from start to finish. Leo McLoone found the back of the net as Donegal opened up a five-point gap at the short whistle. McFadden was once again among the goals after the break while Frank McGlynn put in a man-of-the-match performance.

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn (0-1); E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson (0-1); M Murphy (0-3), N Gallagher (0-1); D Walsh (0-1), M McHugh, R Bradley (0-1); P McBrearty (0-2), C McFadden (1-3), L McLoone (1-0). Subs: S Griffin, D Molloy, M McElhiney.

Derry: B Gillis; J McCamley, C McKaigue, SL McGoldrick (0-1); B McGoldrick, M Craig, E Scullion; J Diver, M Friel; G O’Kane, M Lynch (0-1), E Lynn; C Gilligan, Paddy Bradley (0-6), E McGuckian. Subs: M Donaghy, Patsy Bradley, C Kielt, Eoin Bradley (0-1), Emmet Bradley.

Saturday, June 30: Ulster Championship, semi-final – Tyrone 0-10 DONEGAL 0-12 (Clones)

Tyrone’s Martin Penrose and Frank McGlynn of Donegal. Credit: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan proved the hero in a thrilling Ulster semi-final in Clones. With Donegal leading Tyrone by three points well into stoppage time, Stephen O’Neill looks to be in for a strike on goal. He is dispossessed but Martin Penrose follows up and, after selling a dummy, blasts a shot from the 21 where Durcan’s outstretched leg makes the vital block – with the ball going out off the crossbar for a 45. Tyrone were narrowly in front throughout the first half but from the 50-minute mark, Donegal found five unanswered scores to pull away before the late drama, which also saw Colm McFadden shown a second yellow card.

Tyrone: P McConnell; A McCrory, C. Clarke (0-1), D Carlin (0-1); R McMenamin, C Gormley (0-1, 45), Sean O’Neill (0-1); Joe McMahon (0-2, fs), C Cavanagh; Mattie Donnelly (0-1), Mark Donnelly, P Harte; M Penrose (0-1), Stephen O’Neill (0-2), O Mulligan. Subs: R. McNabb for Mulligan (50 mins), B McGuigan for Mattie Donnelly (61 mins), A. Cassidy for Mark Donnelly (66 mins), N. McKenna for McMenamin (66 mins).

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; E McGee, K Lacey (0-1), A Thompson; R Kavanagh (0-2), N Gallagher; David Walsh, R. Bradley (0-1), M McHugh (0-1); P McBrearty (0-1), M Murphy (0-3, fs), C McFadden (0-3, 2fs). Subs: Declan Walsh for N. McGee (3 mins), M. McElhinney for Gallagher (55 mins), M. O’Reilly for David Walsh (55 mins), L. McLoone for Bradley (69 mins), C. Toye for McBrearty (73 mins).

Sunday, July 22: Ulster Championship, final – DONEGAL 2-18 Down 0-13

Michael Murphy lifts the trophy. Credit: INPHO/Jonathan Porter

The Tir Conaill men made history by retaining the Ulster title for the first time after another impressive performance against Down. A Leo McLoone goal helped Donegal edge in front at the interval when Down lost the influential Benny Coulter to injury. The second half witnessed Donegal find joy with several excellent counter-attacks and win comfortably by a nine-point margin.

This win is probably even better than last year from the point of view of the emotion and the support for the players,” McGuinness said after the final whistle.

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn (1-0), Declan Walsh (0-2), K Lacey, A Thompson, R Bradley (0-2), R Kavanagh, David Walsh (0-1), L McLoone (1-0), M McHugh (0-2), P McBrearty (0-1), M Murphy (0-1), C McFadden (0-6). Subs: M McElhinney (0-2) for David Walsh, C Toye for McLoone, D McLaughlin (0-1) for Bradley.

Down: B McVeigh, D McCartan, D Gordon, D O’Hagan, A Brannigan, B McArdle, A Carr, A Rogers (0-1), K King, D O’Hare (0-2), K McKernan (0-1), L Doyle (0-4), M Poland, B Coulter, C Laverty. Subs: E McCartan (0-1) for Coulter, C Maginn (0-1) for Carr, D Hughes (0-1) for O’Hare, Coulter for McKernan.

Sunday, August 5: All-Ireland, quarter-final – DONEGAL 1-12 Kerry 1-10 (Croke Park)

Anthony Maher and Ryan Bradley compete for a high ball. Credit: INPHO/Colm O’Neill

Donegal booked a spot in the All-Ireland semi-final in dramatic fashion as Karl Lacey ensured the win with a late score. The game was only six minutes old when Colm McFadden had a bit of luck from a sideline ball and, with Michael Murphy and Aidan O’Mahoney both failing to make contact, Brendan Kiely is beaten in the Kerry goal. In an absorbing affair, Donegal were forcing their opponents into errors and kept many of their biggest players relatively quiet. However, with a minute remaining, Anthony Maher brought the Kingdom a point away from levelling the scores before Lacey’s heroics.

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; E McGee, K Lacey (0-1), A Thompson; R Bradley, R Kavanagh; M McElhinney, L McLoone (0-1), M McHugh; P McBrearty (0-1), M Murphy (0-3), C McFadden (1-5). Subs: N Gallagher for McElhinney (h-t), D Walsh for Bradley (59), C Toye (0-1) for McLoone (62), McLaughlin for McBrearty (70+2).

Kerry: Kealy; Ó Sé, O’Mahony, Enright; Ó Sé, Brosnan, Young; Maher (0-2), Sheehan (0-1); Galvin (0-1), O’Sullivan (0-1), Walsh; O’Donoghue, Cooper (0-4), Donaghy (1-0). Subs: Maguire for Brosnan (25 mins), O’Sullivan for Young (32), Buckley for Sheehan, O’Leary for O’Sullivan (both 46), Curtin for O’Donoghue (57).

Sunday, August 5: All-Ireland, semi-final – Cork 1-11 Donegal 0-16 (Croke Park)

Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy celebrate at the final whistle. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

20 years on from their last appearance, Donegal are back in an All-Ireland final after seeing off Cork in a game that went to the wire after Colm O’Neill’s late goal. The Ulster champions were value for their win and remained in front from the 34th minute when Mark McHugh fisted over. As they have been all year, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden and Karl Lacey were all excellent on the day.

Cork: A Quirke; N O’Leary, M Shields, E Cadogan; P Kissane, G Canty, F Goold; A O’Connor, A Walsh (0-1); C Sheehan (0-3), P Kelly (0-1), P Kerrigan (0-2); C O’Neill (1-3), D O’Connor, D Goulding (0-1). 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 (0-1); E McGee, K Lacey (0-2), A Thompson (0-1); N Gallagher, R Kavanagh (0-1); R Bradley, L McLoone, M McHugh (0-1); P McBrearty, M Murphy (0-3), C McFadden (0-5). Subs: D Walsh (0-1) for R Bradley (30), M McElhinney (0-1) for R Kavanagh (59), Declan Walsh for F McGlynn (69), D McLaughlin for P McBreaty (72), C Toye for C McFaddden (72).

Watch The Sunday Game post-match analysis of the semi-final below:


YouTube credit:

Sunday, September 23: All-Ireland, final – DONEGAL ?-?? Mayo ?-??

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Ben Blake

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