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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020


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Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of the 2019 Ulster senior football championship final, as Cavan — bidding to win their first provincial crown since 1997 — face defending champions Donegal in Clones.

We’ll be following all the action on what promises to be a thrilling afternoon at St Tiernach’s Park. Stick with us, with throw-in fast approaching at 2pm. 

It’s Ulster football final day in Clones and the place is buzzing!

Donegal and Cavan fans in Clones before the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Donegal fans in Clones before the game

Fintan Gallagher

Cavan fans in Clones before the game

A view of merchandise for sale before the game

After Roscommon took the honours in Connacht last weekend, and Kerry reigned supreme in Munster yesterday evening, it’s all eyes on Ulster this afternoon in Cavan’s first appearance in the provincial showpiece since 2001.

After victories over Monaghan and Armagh in this year’s championship, Mickey Graham’s side dare to dream of lifting the Anglo-Celt Cup for a record 40th time, but first in 22 years.

Standing in Cavan’s way are defending champions Donegal, who themselves are bidding to win back-to-back titles for the first time after overcoming Fermanagh in last year’s decider. The stakes couldn’t be any higher in Clones. 

Which way do you see this afternoon going? 

Poll Results:

Donegal  (489)
Cavan  (209)

TEAM NEWS: Let’s take a check on this afternoon’s teams, starting with Donegal. They’ve made two late changes to their starting XV, with Odhrán McFadden Ferry coming in for Daire O’Baoill and Niall O’Donnell replacing Leo McLoone.


1. Shaun Patton

2. Paddy McGrath
3. Neil McGee
4. Stephen McMenamin

5. Ryan McHugh
6. Odhran McFadden Ferry
7. Eoghan Ban Gallagher

8. Hugh McFadden
9. Jason McGee

10. Ciaran Thompson
11. Niall O’Donnell
12. Jamie Brennan

13. Paddy McBrearty
14. Michael Murphy (captain)
15. Michael Langan.

TEAM NEWS: As for Cavan, this is how Mickey Graham’s men will line up. Their starting XV shows three changes from the match programme with Gerard Smith, Oisin Pierson and Ciaran Brady coming into the forward line.


1. Raymond Galligan

2. Jason McLoughlin
3. Padraig Faulkner
4. Conor Moynagh

5. Martin Reilly
6. Killian Clarke
7. Conor Rehill

8. Conor Brady
9. Gearoid McKiernan

10. Oisin Kiernan
11. Dara McVeety
12. Niall Murray

13. Gerard Smith
14. Oisin Pierson
15. Ciaran Brady.

The parade is underway in Clones, where a capacity crowd of 29,000 have packed into St Tiernach’s Park for this Ulster decider. We’re moments away from throw-in!


2 mins — Cavan 0-0 Donegal 0-1

Fast start from Donegal and Michael Murphy is fouled by Killian Clarke, allowing Paddy McBrearty to open the scoring. That all came from a poor Raymond Gilligan kick out. 


5 mins — Cavan 0-0 Donegal 0-2

The reigning champions are dominating the early exchanges, and after a long period of possession, Eoghan Ban Gallagher splits the posts for Donegal’s second score of the day. 


7 mins — Cavan 0-1 Donegal 0-2

But Cavan respond strongly and they’re on the board through Killian Clarke, who burst through midfield to fist over. Neil McGee, meanwhile, has been shown an early yellow by referee Conor Lane. 


10 mins — Cavan 0-1 Donegal 0-5

After Niall O’Donnell is off target for the second time today, Ryan McHugh, Hugh McFadden and Michael Murphy show him the way with three successive Donegal scores. 


Killian Clarke and Neil McGee battle for possession.

Killian Clarke and Neil McGee Source: James Crombie/INPHO


13 mins — Cavan 0-2 Donegal 0-5

That’s much better from Cavan, who have started nervously. Gearoid McKiernan surges forward and knocks it over off his left side to bring his side back to within three. Martin Reilly then has the chance to get his name on the scoreboard, but he’ll be disappointed with that effort as it sails wide. 


Michael Murphy has scored one of Donegal’s five points in this first half.

Michael Murphy Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO


16 mins — Cavan 0-2 Donegal 0-6

McBrearty shows his strength to get the ball away despite the attention of three Cavan defenders, which in turn opens up the space for Ciaran Thompson. He can take his time before adding a sixth point to the Donegal tally.


17 mins — Cavan 0-3 Donegal 0-6

Conor Brady goes into Lane’s book before Conor Moynagh conjures a magnificent score off his wrong foot to keep the scoreboard ticking over for Cavan. They’re having to work hard, but have done well to remain in touch. 


20 mins — Cavan 0-3 Donegal 0-7

At the other end, Donegal respond immediately and show their clinical edge through Jamie Brennan to restore their four-point advantage. It could have been more but McBrearty is unable to point after getting in behind the Cavan defence. He felt he was fouled as he bore down on goal but, from a tight angle, he put it wide. 


22 mins — Cavan 0-3 Donegal 0-7

Cavan goalkeeper Raymond Galligan requires treatment after that McBrearty miss but he’s okay to continue and we’re back underway. 


24 mins — Cavan 0-3 Donegal 0-8


Close! That’s the closest we’ve come to a goal so far as Paddy McGrath joins the attack and finds himself in acres of space and only the goalkeeper to beat, but his shot dribbles inches wide of the post. We’re going back for a Donegal free and Murphy knocks it over. 


27 mins — Cavan 0-3 Donegal 0-9

Oh so close for Cavan this time! Gerard Smith’s shot drops short but Conor Rehill latches onto the dropping ball, but, with the goal at his mercy, his unable to keep it on target from close range. What a chance that was. 


28 mins — Cavan 0-3 Donegal 0-11

And Donegal have extended their lead at the other end with back-to-back scores. Firstly, Ciaran Thompson is on the mark and then, after another poor Cavan kick-out, Jamie Brennan stretches his side’s advantage. 


30 mins — Cavan 0-4 Donegal 0-11

Oisin Pierson scores a much-needed point for Cavan as Mickey Graham makes a change, with Stephen Murray on for Niall Murray. 


Michael Murphy and Killian Clarke get up close and personal.

Killian Clarke with Michael Murphy Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO


33 mins — Cavan 0-4 Donegal 0-12

Michael Murphy battles under the high ball with Raymond Galligan but the Donegal captain concedes the foul and he picks up a yellow card for his troubles. 


35 mins — Cavan 0-5 Donegal 0-12

We’ll have four minutes of injury time at the end of this half, and as we enter added time, Gearoid McKiernan makes no mistake from a free for Cavan. 


35 + 3 mins — Cavan 0-5 Donegal 0-13

But Donegal strike on the counter-attack to go into the break with an eight-point lead. Jamie Brennan with his third point of the afternoon. 

Flag 36Mins

Half-time! Cavan 0-5 Donegal 0-13 

Donegal were mightily impressive in that opening period, with the reigning Ulster champions having nine different scorers in Clones so far. Cavan have struggled and haven’t really settled into the occasion, with Mickey Graham’s side up against it. 

Flag 36Mins

We’re back underway! Cavan have it all to do in this second half in Clones. Can they stage an unlikely comeback?


36 mins — Cavan 0-5 Donegal 0-13

Cavan have made two changes at the break: Conor Madden and Cian Mackey are on for Gerard Smith and Oisin Kiernan. 


37 mins — Cavan 0-5 Donegal 0-14

Mickey Graham’s side needed a fast start but it’s Donegal who are doing all the early pressing on the restart, and Murphy extends their lead out to nine. 


38 mins — Cavan 0-6 Donegal 0-14

Gearoid McKiernan responds with a point for Cavan. 


40 mins — Cavan 0-6 Donegal 0-15

That’s glorious from Donegal, who show pace, precision and patience to eventually manufacture the space for Paddy McBrearty to finish off a fine move. 


41 mins — Cavan 0-7 Donegal 0-15

Another good response from Cavan through Dara McVeety but they’ll need to conjure something special to overhaul this deficit. Donegal are beginning to move through the gears. 


43 mins — Cavan 0-7 Donegal 0-16

Donegal are playing with so much confidence and with Michael Langan pointing, all of their forward line has now registered a score this afternoon. Niall O’Donnell, meanwhile, has made way for Daire Ó Baoill.


47 mins — Cavan 0-9 Donegal 0-17

Having scored just one goal in this year’s championship, you feel Cavan are going to need to take every opportunity from here on in, but after coming up to take a free, Raymond Galligan is unable to convert from long-range. Gearoid McKiernan and Paddy McBrearty then exchange scores. 


50 mins — Cavan 0-9 Donegal 0-18

Another poor kick-out from Galligan and McBrearty doesn’t need a second invitation to punish the Cavan goalkeeper with another fine score. Donegal lead by nine. 


53 mins — Cavan 0-9 Donegal 0-18

Conor Moynagh ventures forward and really should have pointed there but Cavan’s frustration is increased as he misses, before Stephen McMenamin gets involved in some needless afters and is booked. 


54 mins — Cavan 0-11 Donegal 0-18

The rain has just started to fall in Clones and suddenly Cavan have back-to-back scores, which moves them back to within seven. 

Flag 57Mins

56 mins — GOAL! Cavan 0-12 Donegal 1-18

Cavan’s comeback is stopped in its tracks. After four points in a row at one end, Jamie Brennan strikes at the other to give Donegal some breathing space again. 


60 mins — Cavan 0-12 Donegal 1-18

Donegal’s lead is back out to nine points and the atmosphere has been drained out of St Tiernach’s Park again. Ódhrán McFadden has been replaced by Paul Brennan for the final 10 minutes. 


61 mins — Cavan 0-12 Donegal 1-18

Declan Bonner’s side now very much in control of this Ulster final as we head towards the 70-minute mark. 

Flag 65Mins

63 mins — GOAL! Cavan 1-13 Donegal 1-20

Cavan are not giving up just yet! Brilliant from Cian Mackey as he uses all his experience and skill to set up Conor Madden for a simple finish at the back post. We’ve got a seven-point game. 


67 mins — Cavan 1-14 Donegal 1-21 

Fine piece of play from Dara McVeety leads to his third score of the day but Cavan are running out of time. They trail by seven. 


68 mins — Cavan 1-14 Donegal 1-21

After Cavan threatened to rally, Donegal — through that Brennan goal — have shut the door emphatically and are now on the verge of another Ulster title. Two minutes left.


69 mins — Cavan 1-14 Donegal 1-22

Donegal are finishing strongly and it’s that man Brennan again. He has 1-4 this afternoon. 


70 mins — Cavan 1-15 Donegal 1-22

We’ll have five minutes of added time in Clones.

Flag 74Mins

70 + 4 mins — GOAL! Cavan 2-16 Donegal 1-24

That’s an incredible finish as Stephen Murray flicks a long ball in past the Donegal goalkeeper. Too little, too late for Cavan though. 

Flag 74Mins

Full-time! Cavan 2-16 Donegal 1-24

Donegal have emphatically retained their Ulster senior football championship crown with an impressive victory over Cavan, whose first appearance in the provincial showpiece since 2001 ends in disappointment.

Patrick McBrearty celebrates with goalscorer Jamie Brennan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

About the author:

Ryan Bailey


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