Donegal are Ulster SFC champions for the fifth time this decade after a five-point win over Cavan in Clones this afternoon.
Cavan battled bravely but Declan Bonner’s men were the superior side throughout the 70+ minutes of action. Jamie Brennan finished the afternoon with 1-4 but such was the performance from Donegal, picking a man of the match was almost impossible.
The win marks Donegal’s fifth Ulster title since 2011 to reaffirm their status as the most successful northern team this decade.
Here are our key talking points following yet another Ulster Championship win for Donegal.
Declan Bonner’s men were dominant from start to finish and really stamped their authority to take home a fifth Ulster crown this decade.
They dominated all over the pitch. At midfield they ruled the roost, they continually turned over Cavan and seemed to get scores a lot easier than their opposition. This team is a force to be reckoned with.
Donegal scored 22 or their 23 scores from play! Let that sink in!
Just five points from 14 attempts during the first-half. Cavan were very wasteful and took some poor shots at goal.
Poor Conor Rehill will be haunted by that goal chance for years to come.
Cavan had to work hard for their scores. Donegal didn’t!
Raymond Galligan has had a fantastic season thus far with Cavan, however, he found it difficult getting the ball to a blue shirt this afternoon. Of course, he can’t be held fully accountable for this, Galligan was heard on occasion shouting at the Cavan players to move. Donegal pressed high on the kick-outs which helped negate Galligan’s influence, it also led to a few key turnovers that resulted in Donegal scores.
Contrast that with Shaun Patton who consistently found a Donegal shirt with his kick-outs, whether it was long or short, it found a Donegal man.
Donegal lead Cavan at the break. Watch the Half-Time highlights here on GAANOW! pic.twitter.com/2YN5d3i7lV
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 23, 2019
Defensive Game Plans
Both sides seemed more defensive than they have done in the Championship to date. Cavan, in particular, have played a quite an open and attractive brand of football this year but they seemed to retreat into a shell in Clones.
This is probably in part down to the threat that Donegal pose meaning Cavan had to tighten things up at the back. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work.
Jamie Brennan – 2019 All-Star
The form footballer in the country.
Probably his quietest performance of the championship to date and he still finished with 1-4. Created a goal for himself out of nothing to kill the game off with 13 minutes to go.
Jamie Brennan's long run ends in a goal. Donegal are on the verge of winning the Ulster Football Championship.
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 23, 2019
Cavan’s Leaders Tried Hard
McKiernan ran himself into the ground, Moynagh covered every blade of grass and kicked another outside of the boot beauty and McVeety, once again was the most bruised man in Croke Park.
Cavan’s leaders tried hard and looked to push the team on, however, they came up against one of the best sides in Ireland who have been there and done it before.
Donegal Have Options All Over
The Tír Chonaill men scored 13 first-half points which is an impressive tally in itself but the fact that they had nine different scorers across that shows the rich array of options that this team possesses.
You can put all your focus on stopping Paddy McBrearty but then Jamie Brennan steps up. Then when you focus your attention on Brennan, a Michael Langan comes to the fore.
An embarrassment of riches in this Donegal side.
Cavan Will Return
Cavan’s last success in 1997 came off the back of an Ulster final defeat in 1996. On that occasion, they had to lose one in order to learn how to win one.
With Mickey Graham at the helm, this Cavan team is going nowhere. It’s no surprise that fans got swept up in Ulster final fever, the same mistakes won’t happen again.
Also, based on their overall performances this season, Cavan are a Super 8 team and should have enough in them to qualify for this year’s series.
Donegal Are Dublin’s Main Threat
Mayo have been beaten, Tyrone & Kerry flattered to deceive, Galway too and Monaghan are out. If anything the big-hitters seem to have gotten further away from Dublin in 2019.
All except Donegal. Their forward unit is embarrassingly strong. So strong that they can afford to play Michael Murphy in a more withdrawn role. They are teak tough at the back and in Ryan McHugh have arguably the best wing-back in Ireland.
It will take some performance to stop Donegal going forward.