/ GAA

Donegal 0-16 Cork 1-11

Updated: Monday, 27 Aug 2012 15:26

Donegal's Karl Lacey and Eamonn McGee celebrate after reaching the final Donegal's strong second half display was too much for Cork in Croke Park
Donegal's Karl Lacey and Eamonn McGee celebrate after reaching the final Donegal's strong second half display was too much for Cork in Croke Park

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Donegal got the better of Cork in an intense Croke Park encounter to reach their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final in 20 years, winning 0-16 to 1-11.

Donegal led by 0-08 to 0-07 at the end of a first half which saw the sides level seven times, with Colm McFadden and Michael Murphy hitting two points each.

Frank McGlynn, Anthony Thompson and Karl Lacey got forward to kick points, with Ciaran Sheehan and Colm O’Neill keeping Cork in touch. O’Neill pulled back a stoppage time goal, but the Ulster champions held on.

In front of a crowd of 55,169, an absorbing first half had the sides virtually inseparable, both executing counter-attacking movements to nail vital scores.

Donegal’s response to Cork’s deployment of an extra attacker to pressurise Mark McHugh was to push Michael Murphy into an advanced role and use long ball as a variation on their tried and tested style.

And it worked in the 12th minute when the Donegal skipper laid off to Colm McFadden to edge the Ulster champions ahead.

Earlier, Murphy and McFadden, with frees, had traded points with Paul Kerrigan and Paddy Kelly, and two superb Colm O’Neill scores had the Rebels in front in the 26th minute.

Neil Gallagher’s high fielding helped Donegal keep the pressure on Conor Counihan’s side, and it was the big midfielder who sent centre back Karl Lacey through for a trademark point, level for the sixth point.

Ciaran Sheehan’s delightful score prompted another response, substitute David Walsh splitting the posts with his first kick, and it was McHugh who broke up a Cork attack before sprinting 100 yards to get on the end of the move and shoot Donegal one point ahead at the break.

Counihan introduced Pearse O’Neill for the second half in a bid to wrestle control of the midfield sector from the Ulster men, but Gallagher continued to pluck balls out of the clouds.

Cork pushed forward with greater urgency, but their opponents remained faithful to their defensive strategy, flooding bodies back when not in possession.

And it was the Ulster champions who registered the first score of the half, a McFadden gem that opened out a two points lead for the first time in the game.

Their dedication, movement and support play shone brightly as they moved four points clear with scores from overlapping defenders Frank McGlynn, Anthony Thompson and Lacey.

Both sides had goal chances, with Alan Quirke saving from Rory Kavanagh, before Colm O’Neill smashed a shot against the crossbar.

Aidan Walsh and Sheehan, with his third, kept Cork in touch, but Donegal led by four going into the final quarter.

Murphy struck a massive free from 50 metres to stretch the advantage to five, and Cork were reeling.

Paul Kerrigan pulled back a point, but McFadden drilled a ’45 between the posts, and Donegal energy never waned.

They were guilty of carelessness in the closing stages, when spilled possession allowed Cork to counter for O’Neill to slide home a goal, but the men from the north-west were not to be denied.

Donegal scorers: C McFadden 0-05 (2f, 1 ’45), M Murphy 0-03 (3f), K Lacey 0-02, M McHugh, A Thompson, F McGlynn, D Walsh, M McElhinney, R Kavanagh 0-01 each

Cork scorers: C O’Neill 1-03, C O’Neill 0-03 each, P Kerrigan 0-02, D Goulding (f), P Kelly, A Walsh 0-01 each.

Cork: A Quirke, N O’Leary, M Shields, E Cadogan, P Kissane, G Canty, F Goold, A O'Connor, A Walsh, C Sheehan, P Kelly, P Kerrigan, C O'Neill, D O'Connor, D Goulding.

Subs: P O’Neill for Goold, D O’Sullivan for A O’Connor, N Murphy for D O’Connor

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson, N Gallagher, R Kavanagh, R Bradley, L McLoone, M McHugh, P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden.

Subs: David Walsh for Bradley, M McElhinney for Kavanagh, Declan Walsh for McGlynn, D McLaughlin for McBrearty

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).