Dublin 0-17 Donegal 3-14

Donegal stunned All-Ireland champions Dublin with a 3-14 to 0-17 win at Croke Park to set up a meeting with Kerry in the All-Ireland football final.

Dublin sprinted five points clear with three each from Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly, but Ryan McHugh’s 33rd-minute goal sent Donegal in with a 1-08 to 0-10 interval lead.

McHugh and Colm McFadden stunned the champions with goals, and the Ulster champions took the Dubs to breaking point, with McHugh finishing with 2-02 as the Sam Maguire Cup holders imploded.

In front of a heaving crowd of 81,500, Dublin’s ability to kick points from distance nullified the defensive cordon facing them, with Flynn kicking two beauties, and Connolly also hitting the target from far out.

They were 0-04 to 0-01 ahead inside five minutes, and in total control of the contest, but Donegal began to get to grips with the waves of blue that had put them under serious pressure in those opening stages.

McFadden was isolated up front, but Karl Lacey managed to get forward and kick a point that reduced the gap to two on 12 minutes.

Dublin stepped on the gas once again and punished the Ulster champions with another volley of quality scores.

Flynn, Connolly and defender Philly McMahon all hit the target as they cruised into a 0-08 to 0-03 lead with 21 minutes played.

But Jim McGuinness sent out the order, and his men responded with a more pro-active strategy, pushing more men forward and matching adventure with tenacity and passion, forcing a series of turnovers that they turned into scores that had Croke Park rocking.

That was only after Paul Durcan had to pull off a superb save from Connolly, but that incident only served to strengthen Tir Chonail resolve, as Neil Gallagher stood tall and Murphy threw off the shackles to join his attacking colleagues.

McHugh, Odhrán MacNiallais and Murphy swung over points, and in the 33rd minute they struck gold.

Murphy challenged ‘keeper Stephen Cluxton for a high ball, and Colm McFadden offloaded to the diminutive McHugh to finish calmly and low to the net. 

TV reaction: Donegal shock Dubs

They went in at the break, remarkably, with a one-point lead, and even more amazingly, stunned the Dubs with a second McHugh goal just two minutes onto the second half.

Anthony Thompson forged into opposition territory and crossed for the Kilcar youngster to palm home at the far post.

The home team were shell-shocked, but quickly regained their composure to respond with points from the Brogan boys

Gallagher’s turnover created the chance for Frank McGlynn to make it a four-point game, and Dublin’s composure became a major issue for Jim Gavin, watching almost helplessly from the sideline.

Donegal were in dreamland when McFadden, struggling for form all season, slotted in goal number three, finding himself in the perfect position to finish off the opening crafted by Gallagher and Paddy McBrearty.

Paddy McGrath and McGlynn were the defensive rocks that the Dublin attack ran into on a number of occasions, and McHugh was denied a hat-trick by Cluxton’s brilliance.

Seven points behind going into the final 15 minutes, and their All-Ireland title hanging by a thread, the Dubs had to find something special, and they pulled back points through Paddy Andrews and Connolly

Donegal lost full back Neil McGee to a black card, but still they ran with confidence at a nervous Dubs defence, and McBrearty slotted over a couple of inspiring scores.

A badly rattled Dublin shot a rash of wides as plans and strategies went by the wayside, and all the noise from a sell-out crowd was tinged with Ulster accents as they finished off a tactical masterclass from Jim McGuinness.

Dublin: S Cluxton, M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, P McMahon (0-01), J McCarthy, J Cooper, J McCaffrey, MD Macauley, C O'Sullivan, P Flynn (0-04), C Costello, D Connolly (0-05, 1f), A Brogan (0-02), E O'Gara, B Brogan (0-03, 1f)

Subs: N Devereux for McCaffrey, K McManamon for Costello, D Rock for O’Gara, P Andrews (0-02) for A Brogan, D Daly for Cooper, P Mannion for O’Sullivan

Donegal: P Durcan, E McGee, N McGee, P McGrath, A Thompson, K Lacey (0-01), F McGlynn (0-01), N Gallagher, O MacNiallais (0-01), R Kavanagh (0-01), L McLoone, R McHugh (2-02), David Walsh, M Murphy (0-03, 2f), C McFadden (1-03, 0-2f).

Subs: C Toye for Walsh, P McBrearty (0-02) for McLoone, Declan Walsh for N McGee (BC), M McElhinney for Kavanagh, D O’Connor for McFadden, M O’Reilly for MacNiallais

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).