By Pierce O’Reilly
There was to be no slip-up or surprise this time out for Donegal on Sunday at Gaelic Park. Donal Gallagher’s men were hungry for success, responded, and the game was all but over at the interval. Trailing by 2-10 to 0-7 at this juncture, the writing was on the wall for Cavan in the second half.
Two first-half goals, one from the boot of Donegal all-star Brendan Devenney and the other from the flying Anton Diver, proved too much to handle for the Breffini lads. This game was played at a pedestrian pace from the off and once Donegal got on top they never looked back.
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Exquisite points from George McKettrick (3), Maurice Leahy and Devenney gave Donegal a 5-point advantage after 15 minutes. Then the goals arrived to drive the Cavan defense into the ground. The Blues, to their credit, never dropped the heads, and with points from Eddie Reilly and John Paul Smith, they soon narrowed the gap.
Donegal dominated the entire second half, with Peter Loughran, Kieran Kevenney and Brendan Devenney all getting on the score sheet. Cavan manager Sean Price moved Eddie Reilly to the middle and the former Cavan senior had an immediate influence. Reilly drove the ball forward from almost every kickout. However, it came back over his head almost as fast. The inside Cavan line was hammered by tigerish and tough Owen Cummins and the very reliable Martin Meehan. John Paul Smith did manage two points for the Breffni boys, but they couldn’t contain a rampant Donegal full forward line that would match any on the intercounty scene in Ireland.
Cavan weekender and Meath native Steven Dillon failed to ignite a lackluster attack that ran down cul de sacs on more than one occasion. The Donegal boys are going to be difficult to stop again this year, and if the reported imports arrive on the 60-day sanctions before the end of the week, they’ll be even better next time out. Cavan can’t afford to lose again if they want to play senior "A" football next season.
Donegal: Eunan Doherty, Mark McClafferty, Owen Cummins, Martin Meehan, Rory Sweeney, Niall McCready, Gerry Kelly, Mick Moran, Kevin Lilly 0-2, Maurice Leahy 0-1, J.P. Boyle 0-1, Anton Diver 1-0, George McKettrick 0-3, Brendan Devenney 1-3, Peter Loughran 0-4. Kieran Kevenney 0-1, Darren Rocks.
Cavan: Paddy Toner, Niall Sugrue, Eugene O’Hagen, Barney Brady, Paddy Mathews 0-2, Joe Cassidey, Barry Annette, Steven Dillon, Enda O’Hara, Craig Kilmurray 0-1, John Paul Smith 0-4, Fergal Fennell 0-2, Gary McDermott, Eddie Reilly 0-2, Noel McPartland 0-2. Subs: Aidan Traynor, Francie Sheridan.