Donegal 2-12 Queen's University 0-11 (AET)

Updated: Sunday, 25 Jan 2009 14:17

Donegal's Ciaran Bonner and James Loughrey of QUB in action at Healy Park
Donegal's Ciaran Bonner and James Loughrey of QUB in action at Healy Park

Extra-time goals from David Walsh and Ryan Bradley ensured Donegal were crowned Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup champions for the first time since 1991 at Healy Park.

This was an entertaining early season encounter but it was
disappointingly played out in front of a small crowd.

In the end, John Joe Doherty's Donegal side bounced back from a four-point deficit in the 29th minute to register a convincing seven-point win.

Donegal took the lead for the first time with 20 minutes remaining in normal time, thanks to Kevin McMenamin's third point of the game, and although Queen's University only scored two points in the second half - both in the 60th minute - Donegal booked extra-time with a late point from Neil Gallagher.

The students lorded possession in the opening quarter but only held a 0-04 to 0-03 lead midway through the first half.

Queen's placed the Donegal defence under major pressure early on and registered a score after just 14 seconds - Shaun 'Snowy' O'Neill fed the ball to Sean Leo McGoldrick for the opening point.

O'Neill was on target a minute later, before defender Eamon McGee broke forward for a point.

That was Donegal's lone score from play in the opening half and in sharp contrast to their efforts in the opening half of their semi-final win over Armagh when they struck nine points from play before the break.

Points for the students from James Kielt and James Loughrey saw
Queen's take a 0-04 to 0-01 advantage after five-and-a-half minutes, before a brace of Stephen Griffin points from placed balls saw Donegal cut the gap to the minimum by the 13th minute.

Griffin had a further effort to level the tie two minutes later, but
Queen's responded with some excellent scores to move 0-06 to 0-03 ahead.

Midfielders Charlie Vernon and Paul Courtney showed strongly for the students. A 29th minute Courtney point helped open up a four point lead, however the students were punished before the interval.

Donegal's comeback was aided in no small way by Queen's sudden fouling, which gifted Donegal frees in scoring positions with Kevin McMenamin converting to cut the gap to 0-08 to 0-05 by half-time.

Doherty's charges emerged a more determined force on the restart, with four unanswered points in the third quarter.

It was Donegal's most dominant spell in the game. Queen's managed just two attacks, both of which failed to yield scores, as the Tir Chonaill men broke in front for the first time.

A Griffin free, coupled with scores from play from Brendan Boyle and Ciaran Bonner, helped level the tie for the first time, at 0-08 apiece, before a McMenamin free six minutes later edged Donegal ahead.

With defences suddenly getting on top, neither side could manage a score over the next eight-and-a-half minutes. Then a brace of O'Neill scores in the 60th minute edged the students in front once again.

A further ten minutes elapsed without a score, before Gallagher
converted Donegal's first point in 20 minutes, to level the tie for
only the third time.

Vernon failed to hold his nerve with an injury-time free, as the
sides, locked level at 0-10 apiece, were made to sweat it out in

Bonner blasted over a quick-fire point after just seven seconds for
Donegal, who withstood strong pressure from Queen's.

The county outfit broke into a four-point lead by the eighth minute
thanks to Walsh's goal.

Walsh's effort came after Queen's goalkeeper Fergal Murphy failed to clear a high ball inside, with Walsh gathering and quickly dispatching the ball to the left corner of the net.

Queen's fired two wides during the first half of extra-time but they
did cut the gap to a goal thanks to a Kielt free.

It was certainly a testing game for all concerned with referee Paudie Hughes limping off midway through the first half of extra-time through cramp.

Chances were limited on the restart but once again Donegal capitalised on some poor Queen's defending.

Again goalkeeper Murphy was at fault as he spilled a high ball inside and Bradley managing to scramble it to the net.

The students had little to offer in the closing minutes as Donegal
claimed their first Dr McKenna Cup title in 24 years - Rory Kavanagh gratefully accepted the cup after a marathon evening.


Donegal: D Walsh 1-01, R Bradley 1-00, K McMenamin (0-02f), S Griffin (0-03f) 0-03 each, C Bonner 0-02, B Boyle, N Gallagher, E McGee 0-01 each.

Queen's University: J Kielt 0-04 (0-02f), S O'Neill 0-03, P Courtney, J Loughrey, C Maginn, SL McGoldrick 0-01 each.

Donegal: P Durcan; F McGlynn, R Sweeney, P McDaid; C Byrne, B Monaghan, E McGee; N Gallagher, B Boyle; C Bonner, C Dunne, R Kavanagh; K McMenamin, S Griffin, D Walsh.

Subs used: M Doherty for Boyle (58 mins), L Thompson for Dunne (65), EWaide for Kavanagh (68, yellow card), R Bradley for Sweeney (70, yellow card), Boyle for Byrne (84)

Queen's University: F Murphy; A McCrory, L Howard, R Dillon; D O
hAgain, B McArdle, J Crozier; C Vernon, P Courtney; J Loughrey, C
Maginn, SL McGoldrick; J Kielt, S O'Neill, C Bayne.

Subs used: L Morrow for McArdle (yellow card, 36 mins), P McVeigh for O'Neill (yellow card, 64), B Martin for Morrow (65), C Leonard for Bayne (84).

Referee: Paudie Hughes (Armagh).