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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019
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Red-hot Cork put four past Donegal to book league final return

Colm O’Neill fired 2-2 as Cork beat Donegal in an entertaining Division 1 football semi-final.

Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Cork 4-11

Donegal 0-19

Niall Kelly reports from Croke Park

A BLISTERING START to the second half helped Cork power past Donegal and back into the Allianz National Football League Division 1 final.

Colm O’Neill and Brian Hurley struck two rapid-fire goals to ensure that the Rebels will contest the league decider for the fourth time in six seasons.

That flurry effectively decided an open and entertaining semi-final which saw the sides share 34 scores in front of a tiny crowd in Croke Park.

It wasn’t exactly played at Championship intensity but was all the more enjoyable for it as both sides pieced together some flowing attacks and picked off some fine long-range points.

Mark Collins and Michael Murphy Mark Collins and Michael Murphy. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

With just five weeks to go until their Ulster Championship opener against Tyrone, Donegal boss Rory Gallagher might well be worried about the concession of four goals.

But he will find plenty of positives in the way his side stuck to their task in the second half.

They outscored Cork by 0-4 to 0-1 in the 10 minutes after Hurley’s goal to cut the gap and could have drawn level had Paddy McBrearty taken a golden opportunity.

Substitute Christy Toye lofted a high ball towards the Cork goal but McBrearty’s shot cannoned back off Ken O’Halloran’s legs, though the goalkeeper deserves credit for the save.

Ken OÕHalloran and Barry OÕDriscoll Ken O'Halloran and Barry O'Driscoll Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Still, Donegal did enough to force the issue until O’Neill struck for his second goal and Cork’s fourth 12 minutes from time, a simple finish following more good work by Hurley.

Brian Cuthbert changed seven from the Cork side which lost last week’s dead rubber against Derry, but his side were second best in the opening quarter as they struggled to come to terms with the Donegal set-up.

Donegal reeled off four unanswered scores — a 45 and a free from Michael Murphy, two of the captain’s 0-8 contribution on the day, as well as points from the impressive McBrearty and Odhran MacNiallais — to lead by 0-7 to 0-3 after 16 minutes.

But a fine point from Conor Dorman, who must have carried the ball more than 50 metres out of the half-back line, and then the game’s opening goal from Clonakilty’s Tom Clancy drew Cork level.

Colm OÕDriscoll and Neil McGee Colm O'Driscoll and Neil McGee get shirty. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

O’Neill’s fingerprints were all over that goal as well as he did brilliantly to hold up possession in the corner before feeding Clancy who was steaming forward from the back.

Points from Murphy, Karl Lacey and a McBrearty free restored Donegal’s advantage but Cork, inspired by a towering performance from man of the match Fintan Goold in midfield, steadied the ship to go in level at the break, 1-8 to 0-11.

O’Neill showed superb reactions when Hurley’s shot came back off the upright and punched Cork’s second goal past Michael Boyle in the 38th minute.

And no sooner than Martin McElhinney had pointed for Donegal, Cork came straight back down the other end where Hurley outmuscled Paddy McGrath and planted a fine finish past a helpless Boyle.

McElhinney, McFadden and another pair from the boot of Murphy gave Donegal a fighting chance as the game entered the final quarter.

But once again Hurley was the provider and O’Neill applied the finish to kill the contest.

Scorers for Cork: Colm O’Neill 2-2 (1f), Brian Hurley 1-1, Fintan Goold 0-4, Tom Clancy 1-0,  John O’Rourke, Conor Dorman, Colm O’Driscoll, Michael Shields 0-1 each.

Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy 0-8 (3f, 1 45), Patrick McBrearty 0-4 (1f), Colm McFadden, Martin McElhinney 0-2 each, Anthony Thompson, Odhran MacNiallais, Karl Lacey 0-1 each.

Cork

1. Ken O’Halloran (Bishopstown)
17. Tom Clancy (Clonakilty)
3. Michael Shields (capt, St. Finbarr’s)
4. James Loughrey (Mallow)

5. Conor Dorman (Bishopstown)
6. Brian O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh)
7. Tomás Clancy (Fermoy)

8. Eoin Cadogan (Douglas)
9. Fintan Goold (Macroom)

10. Colm O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh)
11. John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers)
12. Kevin O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh)

13. Colm O’Neill (Ballyclough)
14. Mark Collins (Castlehaven)
15. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven)

Substitutes:

21. Paul Kerrigan for Shields (55)
22. Daniel Goulding for K O’Driscoll (60)
25. Barry O’Driscoll for Brian O’Driscoll (64)
24. Donal Og Hodnett for O’Rourke (68)
23. John Hayes for Hurley (68)

Donegal

1. Michael Boyle (Termon)

2. Paddy McGrath (Ardara)
3. Neil McGee (Gweedore)
4. Éamon McGee (Gweedore)

5. Frank McGlynn (Glenfin)
6. Karl Lacey (Four Masters)
7. Anthony Thompson (Naomh Conaill)

8. Martin McElhinney (St Michael’s)
21. Hugh McFadden (Killybegs)

26. Eoin McHugh (Kilcar)
11. Odhrán Mac Niallais (Gweedore)
12. Ryan McHugh (Kilcar)

13. Patrick McBrearty (Kilcar)
14. Michael Murphy (Glenswilly)
15. Colm McFadden (St Michael’s)

Substitutes:

17. Eamonn Doherty for Thompson (40)
10. Martin O’Reilly for E McHugh (46)
9. Christy Toye for McGrath (49)
25. Stephen Griffin for C McFadden (60)
20. Daniel McLaughlin for H McFadden (64)

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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