Donegal retained their Ulster crown with an emphatic eleven point victory in Clones in front of a crowd of 34, 696 spectators.
After an impressive Ulster championship where they failed to concede a goal from open play in four games (Cavan scored a penalty) and won by an average of just over six points per game, Donegal will be a difficult team to eliminate from the championship. Goals from Leo McLoone and Frank McGlynn broke Down’s resolve and the game was over as a contest long before the final whistle.
The game began with few scores as both teams took their time to find a rhythm. Ryan Bradley and Paddy McBrearty pointed for Donegal, while Liam Doyle opened the Mourne account with a free on twelve minutes. Downs ploy to combat the blanket defence was to take long range scores, and it appeared to be working when Doyle pushed Down into the lead for the first time. Downs tight defence was opened up twice before the break. First Anthony Thompson blazed high and wide after Rory Kavanagh played him through, but McLoone made no mistake after a quickly taken free from Bradley to finish past Brendan McVeigh to give the reigning champions an interval lead of 1-5 to 0-7.
Injury deprived Benny Coulter of retaking to the field and Donegal began to stamp their authority on proceedings. The highly influential Mark McHugh and Michael Murphy added points along with trademark Colm McFadden scores. Christy Toye and Colm McElhinney made positive contributions from the bench and McGlynn drilled home their second goal on 51 minutes. Paul Durcan made a superb save from Danny Hughes late on as Down tried to make the scoreline more respectable, but they had no answer to power and pace of the Ulster champions as Jim McGuinness enhances his already growing reputation as a tactical mastermind.