In the second of these matches, Donegal headed to the Junior football division A final after an impossibly easy victory, 2-15 to 0-2, over a lifeless Kerry side. At times this season the Kingdom have impressed and a performance such as the one delivered on Sunday at Gaelic Park seemed implausible.
Kerry actually were first to register a mark in referee Sean Jones’s scoresheet when D.J. Brennan notched the match’s opening score and, incredibly, that point would account for 50 percent of Kerry output over 60 minutes.
Donegal weren’t exactly wearing out the scoreboard themselves in a first half that, in combination with the previous match, might have created a rush of disgruntled customers to the box office demanding refunds. The Ulster side were in fact dominant, but their first-half tally of 1-3, while more than enough to earn the result on its own, was about half of what they should have produced.
Donegal were strong all over the field. Keith Nolan was a tower of strength at center halfback and the Donegal midfield pair of Steve Tonary and Garreth Kelly kept the front six well supplied. That front six were well on top but poor finishing kept Kerry in touch for longer than they deserved.
Donegal pushed out to a 0-3 to 0-1 lead on points from John Mason, Sean McFadden, and Pat Folan. McFadden provided the game’s highlight moment when he raced through the Kerry defense and buried the ball in the back of the Kerry net. McFadden’s gem sent Donegal into the half leading 1-3 to 0-1.
New York manager Leslie McGettigan entered the fray as a substitute and made a huge impact as Donegal forwards finally clicked. Folan opened the second half with a Donegal point and then McGettigan got into the act when he pointed from a free. Miles O’Connell scored a great point for Kerry, but that lone point was to be Kerry’s only score of the second half.
McGettigan had a proverbial blinder in the closing 30 minutes. Manager McGettigan would surely have loved to have had a forward in corner forward McGettigan’s form against Galway in the opener of the abbreviated program.
McGettigan banged over 0-5 but even more important was his precision passing, which helped tear the Kindom defense assunder. Mason found the target for Donegal’s second goal and Kelly, Tonary, and McFadden ran rampant as Donegal booked their place in next Sunday’s final versus St. Barnabas.
Man of the Match: Sean McFadden
Donegal: J.P. Clarke, Brian Supple, Marty Meehan, Mark McClafferty, Sean Campbell, Keith Nolan, Pauric Rooney, Steve Tonary (0-1), Garreth Kelly (0-2), Anton Diver, John Mason (1-2), Pat Folan (0-2), Sean McFadden (1-2), Paul McBride (0-1), Colm Kenny. Sub: Leslie McGettigan (0-5).
Kerry: John Fogarty, Tim Lynch, Aiden Riney, Pat Driscoll, Aiden Finn, Peter Riney, John Kissane, Lou Holland, Larry Kavanagh, D.J. Brennan (0-1), Miles O’Connell (0-1), Ian Galvin, Mike McKenna, Kieran Cill, Kevin O’Connor