at Brewster Park
Fresh from a record win, Cavan U21s crashed to what may have been a record defeat when they were steamrolled tonight by an excellent Donegal side.
Declan Bonner’s men oozed class in everything they did – in every line of the field, they had power and pace in abundance. And this side are no automated robots, either – their use of the ball and, in particular, their shooting was hugely impressive.
Cavan battled as well as they could at the back but found themselves up against a superior force who were better in almost every department.
While Conor Bradley and Ryan Connolly's pace caused Donegal a few problems, the favourites' defence was watertight and Cavan found themselves relying on pot-shots and frees to stay in touch.
Donegal’s first half performance was flawless. Incredibly, they rattled off 13 shots and scored every one of them. In fact, they would score from their first 15 efforts on goal, racking up 1-15 before eventually recording a wide five minutes into the second half.
By that point, though, they were 11 points to the good and the game was up for a Cavan side who defeated Fermanagh by 20 points in the quarter-final.
The Breffni boys actually started the game well and opened the scoring with a fine point from Conor Bradley, who was probably their best player on the night.
Donegal replied through Michael Langan and a brilliant score from Stephen McBrearty but Cavan edged in front with frees from Caoímhín O’Reilly and Ryan Connolly.
That was as good as it got for the underdogs, however, as Donegal moved through the gears and reeled off 10 points unanswered.
Lorcan Connors supplied four of them from frees and another smart effort from play with Cian Mulligan and Langan also on the mark and McBrearty and Carroll landing huge scores from distance.
Donegal couldn’t miss at this stage and although Cavan pegged back two from Bryan Magee and O’Reilly (free), they went in seven down and the game was put to bed 50 seconds after the restart when, after patient build-up play, Mulligan smashed a shot to the corner of the net.
Donegal, pressing Cavan’s kick-out, enjoyed a total stranglehold thereafter and tacked on a succession of points. Langan took a pass from Connors and palmed home their second goal and they ran in an identical score before the end, sub Caolán McGonigle providing the finishing touch after a lightning counter-attack.
On the evidence of this performance, the Tír Chonnail men will take all the beating.
Scorers for Cavan: Caoimhin O’Reilly 0-5 (5f), Ryan Connolly 0-5 (4f), Conor Bradley 0-1, Bryan Magee 0-1, David Brady 0-1, Sean O’Connor 0-1
Scorers for Donegal: Lorcan Connors 0-6 (5f), Michael Langan 1-3 (1f), Stephen McBrearty 0-5, Cian Mulligan 1-1, Caolán McGonigle 1-0, Niall O’Donnell 0-1f, Jason Magee 0-1
Cavan: Liam Brady, Micheál Smart, Donal Monahan, Luke Fortune, Sean O’Connor, Eoin Somerville, Patrick O’Reilly, Thomas Galligan, Cormac Daly, Pierce Smith, Conor Bradley, Matthew McKenna, Caoímhín O’Reilly, Bryan Magee, Ryan Connolly
Sub: Conor Smith for McKenna (37 mins), Brendan Argue for O’Reilly (43), David Brady for P Smith (43), Conor O’Reilly for Daly (46), Thomas Edward Donohoe for Magee (50), Rhys Clarke for Bradley (54)
Donegal: Danny Rodgers, Conor Morrison, Jason Magee, Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Dáire Ó Baoill, Tony McCleneghan, Brendan McCole, Micheál Carroll, Michael Langan, Jamie Brennan, Stephen McBrearty, Christy McLaughlin, Lorcan Connors, Cian Mulligan, Stephen McMenamin
Sub: Conor Doherty for McLaughlin (h/t), Niall McDonnell for McBrearty (42), Caolán McGonagle for Carroll (47, b/c), Ethan O’Donnell for Langan (48), Rory Carr for Connors (52), Niall Friel for McCleneghan (55)