Donegal are the Junior B champions after a dominating performance when they blew the game against the Manhattan Gaels open in the second quarter. In that period they outscored the Gaels 2-3 to zero, a lead which paved the way for victory.
Keeper Pa Nolan made some timely saves over the hour, and center forward Jackie McHugh was a live wire, especially when the game was still on the line.
It was three points each at the end of the first quarter, with Conor O’Leary in impressive form for Manhattan while McHugh was already showing his talents for the winners.
The Gaels had a number of wides in this period while also hitting the foot of the left upright; O’Leary was the shooter after the ball rattled around the square for a moment.
Donegal took the let off and started to dominate. On 20 minutes, Donegal had their first goal.
A long ball from Jackie McHugh dropped on the 14. It was pushed to Daniel Slovlin who fired a bullet on goal. Ger Shivnan did very well to parry it but Greg King reacted quickly and buried the rebound in the net.
Four minutes later goal number two arrived. Another long ball was pushed to the inrushing Cunningham by Kevin Lilly and the wing forward made no mistake. Three further points before the break put the winners into what already looked like an unassailable lead of 2-6 to 0-3.
Donegal opened the second half with two further points but then they had a player sent off for a tackle, he was a sub that was introduced and spent less than five minutes on the field.
After a James Egan point from play Donegal received a penalty when King was fouled. The same player had his shot saved by Shivnan but the rebound was buried. This time it was cancelled, however, due to encroachment.
Manhattan followed with a 1-1 burst with Egan in the right place for the goal, and the lead was narrowed to 2-9 to 1-5. The sides swapped points but then Donegal put the game away.
A scoring burst of 1-2 extended the lead, with Cunningham grabbing his second goal of the final. Niall Brennan did have a goal back as consolation after Nolan saved the first effort, but the winners added further points from Grant and Nolan from a fifty with time running out.
For the winners, Nolan was excellent between the posts. He had some timely stops when the game was still at large. David O’Connell and Jack Donnelly were excellent in the half back line with the two Brians winning the midfield battle. McHugh, Slovlin and the active Stephen Cunningham were all very dangerous in the forward line.
For the Gaels, Damien McCaughey, Conor O’Leary, sub James Egan and the very impressive Ger Shivnan all battled hard.
Manhattan Gaels: 1 Ger Shivnan, 2 Stephen McCracken, 3 Alan Dowling, 4 Paddy McGuinness, 5 Sean Cooney, 6 Sean Harrington, 7 Eric Corcoran, 8 Damien McCaughey (0-2), 9 Stephen Costello, 10 Tomas Cooney, 11 Niall Brennan (1-1), 12 John Crowe, 13 Conor O’Leary (0-2), 14 Barry McErlean, 15 Kevin Cashman. Subs: James Egan (1-1), Leo Quigley, Luke Keogh.
Donegal: 1 Pa Nolan (0-1), 2 Simon Gillespie, 3 Brian Sweeney, 4 Brian Breslin, 5 David O’Connell, 6 Tom Moran, 7 Jack Donnelly, 8 Brian Hegerty (0-1), 9 Brian Givney, 10 Stephen Cunningham (2-2), 11 Jackie McHugh (0-4), 12 Conor Regan, 13 Daniel Slovlin (0-4), 14 Kevin Lilly (0-1), 15 Greg King (1-0). Subs Brendan Grant (0-1), Eamonn McShane.
Man of the match: Jackie McHugh (Donegal).
Referee: Pat Donohue.