There were no surprises on the scoreboard in Brefini Park today as Donegal comfortably overcame Cavan to book an Ulster Championship semi-final date with Tyrone in two weeks time.
Despite running out emphatic nine point winners in the end, the Donegal men got off to a sluggish start and Cavan went into an early lead.
A Michael Murphy free levelled the sides before Cavan went ahead once more courtesy of Neil Mc Dermott’s boot.
However, it would be some time before either side scored again and when a controversial decision saw Donegal’s Murphy being show a red card, the momentum it seemed had swung in favour of the underdog Cavan side. The red card followed the sending off of Cavan’s Ray Cullivane for a high footed challenge and prompted speculation that referee Duffy had acted in order to restore parity to both sides.
The sending off was the defining moment of a low scoring first half and was enough to fire up Donegal who responded almost immediately with the first goal of the game from substitute Patrick McBrearty. Donegal went ahead for the first time in the match, a lead which they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
McDermott got another for Cavan to lessen the gap before Michael Hegarty entered the battle to further reinvigorate the Donegal side. Donegal’s dominance began to emerge and a string of three unanswered points saw them leading by six points at half time.
This dominance continued into the second half as Donegal netted for their second goal of the game while a series of unanswered points stretched the lead to eleven points as the final whistle approached.
Despite a lethargic display from a young Cavan side, a late goal added some respectability to the scoreline.
However the victory never looked in doubt and Donegal will now look to their semi-final fixture against Ulster giants Tyrone almost certainly to be without star Forward Murphy. The sending off was the talking point of an otherwise lack lustre encounter and while an impressive scoreline on paper, the real challenge starts here.
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