It was a battle of north and south as Donegal edged out Cork in a top of the table junior A clash. Donegal held the advantage for first and last quarters of the game. After Donegal built a five point lead early in the game Cork came back to lead in the seond, but could not sustain the effort till the end. Donegal finished the stronger of the two to retain their unbeaten record in the competition.
The first 15 minutes of the game saw Donegal take advantage of a Cork team that had not figiured out how to get itself into the game. Donegal dominated the middle of the field, while Cork struggled to put two passes together. After Cathal Moriarty opened the scoring with a point for Cork, Donegal hit with six on the trot. Hugh Devine kicked the pick of them with a fine effort from the left side of the field, while Christy McLaughlin, Dean Kelly, Owen Grant, and Pauric McLaughlin accounted for the balance. Cork eventually got themselves into the game.
A Mike Maye point ended a rare Cork break upfield, and after Mick Lyons blazed wide following a Cathal Moriarty run, Cork closed the gap with scores from Moriarty, Niall O'Connor, and Cian Clifford. At the break the game was finely balanced with Donegal leading by two points, 0-7 to 0-5.
The game was tied entering the final quarter. Cork had found themselves and the efforts of the rebels had a higher sense of urgency and purpose. Colm Caffrey stole forward to sneak a point, and Moriarty at corner forward threatened each time the ball was in his hands. Cork had ended themselves into a two point lead entering the last 15 minutes, but Christy and Pauric McLaughlin leveled matters; Pauric McLaughlin's score a fine effort from distance.
Donegal had to reassert themselves, and the northerners did just that. A quickly taken sideline kick found the Cork defence napping. Christy McLaughlin had yards of open space between him and the goal, and the corner forward gave Kieran Reid no chance. A point followed from the boot of McLaughlin to put four points between the teams with less than 10 minutes to go. Cork lost the mojo that they had earlier in the half and passes missed their mark as the rebels went in search of a goal. Michael McGinty's point with minutes to go reduced Cork's chances of getting a result, though Lar Barden found himself through on two occasions, one shot produced a fine save from Jonathan Byrne and the other shaved the top of the crossbar. Cork did score a goal, Mick Lyones buried a shot from 14 yards to give Cork a glimmer of hope, but in the end it was Donegal coming out on top with Christy McLaughlin putting the final touches on the victory.
Cork: K. Reid, E. Barry, M. Carolan, D. Brogan, D. O'Regan, C. Caffrey, N. O'Connor, J. Lynch, M. Moynihan, M. Lyons, M. Maye, C. Moriarty, C. Clifford. Donegal: J. Byrne, F. Donnelly, B. McGinley, D. Doherty, D. Green, H. Devine, D. Kelly, M. Dunphy, C. McDevitt, M. McGinty, P. McLaughlin, O. Grant, C. McLaughlin.
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