Football League Div 1 semi-final: Cork 4-11 0-19 Donegal

Cork's Fintan Goold tackles Donegal's Michael Murphy at Croke Park
Donegal and Cork served up an entertaining opening Division 1 semi-final at Croke Park

Clinical Cork beat Donegal 4-11 to 0-19 in a surprisingly open Football League Division 1 semi-final at Croke Park.

Donegal led 0-3 to 0-1 and 0-7 to 0-3 but Tom Clancy's goal helped Cork level at 1-8 to 0-11 by half-time.

Two goals from Colm O'Neill and Brian Hurley shortly after the break moved Cork into a 3-9 to 0-12 lead.

Ken O'Halloran prevented the impressive Patrick McBrearty netting a levelling Donegal goal and O'Neill's second goal on 58 minutes made the game safe.

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Donegal boss Rory Gallagher takes positives from defeat

After all the recent headlines bemoaning the defensive nature of modern day football, this encounter was a highly entertaining spectacle although one suspects it will bear little comparison to Donegal's Ulster Championship opener against Tyrone in five weeks.

In the end, Cork won the game convincingly as they were able to run down the clock in the closing stages by playing keep ball but the outcome could have been different had Colm McFadden and Brearty taken goal chances.

Donegal looked the sharper outfit during most of the first half with McBrearty their main attacking threat.

After Hurley kicked the opening score, points from Anthony Thompson, Michael Murphy and McBrearty edged Donegal 0-3 to 0-1 ahead and while Cork quickly levelled, the Ulster champions responded with four unanswered scores as they punished a series of turnovers.

Indeed, Donegal could have been even further ahead at that stage as Cork keeper O'Halloran had produced the first of his two superb saves to deny Colm McFadden

However, Cork were suddenly on terms by the 18th minute as Clancy finished to the net after being superbly set up by the dangerous O'Neill.

Donegal appeared to have re-established a measure of control as points from play from Murphy and Karl Lacey helped them move three ahead again but Cork pulled level again by the 30th minute thanks in part to two scores from man of the match Fintan Goold.

Colm O'Neill tries to burst away from Michael Murphy at Croke Park
Colm O'Neill scored two of Cork's four goals at Croke Park

Cork were a tad fortunate to be level at half-time but were soon six points clear as O'Neill's fisted goal on 38 minutes was followed by Hurley's angled shot to the net two minutes later.

O'Neill reacted fastest after John O'Rourke's long-range shot had come back off a post and Donegal defender Paddy McGrath felt that he had been fouled by Hurley prior to the Cork forward's emphatic finish.

Fine scores from Martin McElhinney and McFadden helped Donegal cut Cork's lead to three and they looked likely to get on terms in the 50th minute as McBrearty had his goal chance but O'Halloran spread himself to make a brilliant save.

At that stage, Cork appeared to be losing their way somewhat but they were back in total control by the 58th minute after full-back and captain Michael Shields's superb point was followed by O'Neill's second goal following an unselfish pass from the impressive Hurley.

Cork were content to play keep ball in the closing stages with Donegal unable to create the goal chance which could have given them a late lifeline.

TEAMS

Cork: K O'Halloran; Tom Clancy, M Shields, J Loughrey; C Dorman, B O'Driscoll, Tomas Clancy; E Cadogan, F Goold; C O'Driscoll, J O'Rourke, K O'Driscoll; C O'Neill, M Collins, B Hurley.

Donegal: M Boyle; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; F McGlynn, K Lacey, A Thompson; M McElhinney, H McFadden; E McHugh, O MacNiallais, R McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden.

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