PATRICK MCBREARTY had his best game for Donegal to fire his men to an All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with Dublin next Saturday.
Donegal 0-21 Cork 1-15
McBrearty kicked eleven points, six of them from play, in a five-star display by the Kilcar man.
This was McBrearty’s 75th Donegal appearance – his 35th in the Championship and he gave just the display Donegal supporters have been waiting for.
Not even a black card in the fifth minute of added time dimmed the ratings for McBrearty, who was in stunning form.[adrotate group=”43″]
When he made the long walk after being shown the black card by referee Paddy Neilan, McBrearty was given a standing ovation after one of the great Croke Park displays.
The only shame was that there weren’t more in attendance to see it, but those who were inside the old theatre marvelled at a magical display from McBrearty, who lit the touch paper.
Donegal weren’t at their best, but McBrearty certainly was. It was just as well, too, given that Cork – ignited by Paul Kerrigan’s goal in the first half – had them on the rack.[adrotate group=”46″]
Donegal’s defence was unusually porous for long spells, but in the last 25 minutes of action – including the now-customary six minutes of added time – Cork scored just once.
In that time, there was a magnificent block by Kieran Gillespie to bat away an effort from Paddy Kelly as Cork went in search of a comeback.
Colm O’Neill had Cork 1-14 to 0-15 ahead in the 52nd minute, but McBrearty and Eoin McHugh landed points to level the game for the eighth time.
Frees by Michael Murphy and McBrearty had Donegal ahead for only the second time in the game and McBrearty crowned his afternoon with a sweeping point before being black carded.
Donegal were all at sea early on and appeared to be still suffering from their Ulster final loss to Tyrone with Cork the more energetic and economical.
But for McBrearty, who hit seven first-half points, Donegal could have been on their way back up the M1 by the time Neilan signalled half-time.
Tom Clancy, Kevin O’Driscoll, Sean Powter and Donncha O’Connor, with a superb point from distance, had Peadar Healy’s men 0-4 to 0-2 up in a rip-roaring opening.
Cork stunned Donegal with a goal in the 17th minute as Clancy fed Kerrigan. Neil McGee, who did well to get back having been on the attack when Donegal were turned over, couldn’t get an arm in and Kerrigan wonderfully shot to the top corner past Mark Anthony McGinley.[adrotate group=”37″]
Cork were ahead by five and Donegal in all sorts of difficulty.
Donegal woke from their slumber and it was McBrearty hammering the gong.
Already with four points to his name, McBrearty hit another three as Donegal found a purple patch that yielded seven scores in a deadly ten-minute spell.
It brought them from the edge of the cliff to stability again.
Kerrigan’s goal had threatened to push them over the edge, but McBrearty was the calming and inspiring influence in those moments when the summer was in danger of collapse.
McBrearty had his own highlights reel by the close of the first half. There was one delicious effort, after taking a pass from Martin McElhinney in the 26th minute, and another, going away from goal on the left-hand side, defied his position.
McBrearty was lording the game by then and was clearly spewing with confidence.[adrotate group=”68″]
Michael Murphy announced his arrival to the game with a sweet point, off the outside of his right foot, and Ryan McHugh, with an equally impressive score, levelled things up.
Donegal led for the first time when Karl Lacey ran onto a pass from Odhrán Mac Niallais to swing over, but Cork led at the interval after Clancy and Kerrigan found the range.
It could have been worse for Donegal when, in the final minute of the first half, Ian Maguire, after Clancy again provided the assist, got a shot away, but Neil McGee stepped in with a big intervention to make the block.[adrotate group=”70″]
Any time Donegal got level, Cork seemed to respond instantly. Until, that is, Donegal clicked into gear during the final quarter, sealing a passage into a quarter-final meeting with Dublin next Saturday evening, which will be Donegal’s sixth quarter-final in a row.
Eoin and Ryan McHugh contributed handsomely here, as did substitutes Leo McLoone, Christy Toye and Gillespie, but one man is walking taller this evening.
Donegal: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamon McGee; Ryan McHugh (0-3), Karl Lacey (0-1), Frank McGlynn (0-1); Rory Kavanagh, Martin McElhinney; Anthony Thompson, Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-1), Eoin McHugh (0-2); Patrick McBrearty (0-11, 4f), Michael Murphy (0-2, 1f), Martin O’Reilly. Subs: Kieran Gillespie for E.McGee (43), Leo McLoone for Kavanagh (46), Christy Toye for Thompson (55), Mark McHugh for McGlynn (61), Eamonn Doherty for N.McGee (68), Hugh McFadden for McElhinney (70).
Cork: Ryan Price; Colm O’Driscoll (0-2), Eoin Cadogan, Stephen Cronin; Tom Clancy (0-2), Sean Powter (0-1), Kevin O’Driscoll (0-2); Alan O’Connor, Ian Maguire; Paul Kerrigan (1-2), Tomás Clancy (0-1), Mark Collins (0-1); Donncha O’Connor (0-1), Peter Kelleher, Michael Hurley. Subs: Aidan Walsh (0-1) for A.O’Connor (35), Paddy Kelly for Kelleher (43), Colm O’Neill (0-2, 1f) for O’Connor (47), Brian O’Driscoll for Clancy (48), John O’Rourke for K.O’Driscoll (62), Alan Cadogan for Powter (68).
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).Tags: