By Pierce O’Reilly
Twelve points separated the sides at the finish. It could have been more. Donegal outclassed and outplayed their opponents in the opening junior “A” football clash at Gaelic Park on Sunday last.
Fermanagh’s season sank suddenly in the opening half. Armagh senior Peter Loughran was majestic at full forward and his overall contribution from play and frees nailed the Fermanagh coffin long before the finish.
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At the interval, Donegal led 0-9 to 0-3. Loughran, and James Kenny were the main protagonists. Fermanagh clearly hadn’t trained as a unit for some time and lacked the cohesion and understanding they had in abundance earlier in the season. They also lost several valuable players in the last two weeks and their departure cost them dearly.
Pettigoe club man and New York all-star Gary Dowd ruled the roost in the second period. Along with Dowd, Paul Kelly, James Kenny and Paul Higgins all landed great points from play. Fermanagh’s only reply came from the boot of Gerry Murphy, who goaled midway through. It mattered little to the outcome. At the other end, Donegal scored with every attack. Sean Kelly hit the onion bag before the long whistle to nail the Fermanagh coffin tightly.
Colm Shannon, Fermanagh’s outstanding performer all season failed to rally his troops. Over the hour he could only manage a solidarity point. Donegal are back in the final following their slip up to Rangers last season. They are a much better team this time around, and with Loughran developing at full forward they have a real gem in attack. The Ulster club’s purse will jingle a fare bit between now and the final. If the silverware arrives in abundance, their little extravagance won’t bother anyone. If cupboards remain empty, heads will roll.
Fermanagh: John Heraghty, Ciaran Lee, Noel McGovern, Gene Mulligan, Ciaran Donnelly, Dermot Dalton, Stephen Keating, Darren Doherty (0-1), Sean Melly (0-1), Gerry Murphy (1-0), Stephen Owens (0-1), Paul McCaffery, Damien Boyle, Colm Shannon (0-1), Stephen Quinn (0-1).
Donegal: Frank Molloy, Adrian Dever, Pat Mahon, Mark McClafferty, Padraic Rooney, Eamon Shaughnessy, John Mason, Paul Higgins (0-1), Gary Dowd (0-2), Sean Kelly (1-0), Garreth Kelly (0-1), Anton Dever (0-2), James Kenny (0-4), Peter Loughran (0-6), Paul Kelly (0-1).