Shannon Blues 1-13 Donegal 0-11
|Shannon Blues Cup Champions!|
Shannon Blues captured the 2015 Pat O’Brien Cup with a fine all round display on Saturday afternoon. After the first 10 minutes the game took on a complexion that would not change as the Blues took an early lead and looked fairly comfortable holding Donegal at bay. The fact that the Blues were up for it was evident in several performances. Shane Kelly, David Clifford, Conor Mullen, and Pat Murray all put in focused, determined performances. The play of newcomers Dara Roche and Barry Dwyer at corner forwards, Wayne Guthrie in the middle of the field, and Liam O’Connell at center back were also keys to capturing the first piece of silverware of the season.
The Blues held a slight edge at the end of the first half. Dwyer and Roche looked dangerous with every ball played in, and the Blues controlled most of the play. Defenders had the better of their men for the most part, while Greg Horan and Guthrie looked strong in the middle of the field. The Blues built a solid lead with some well taken scores by Roche and Dwyer, while Pat Murray, Conor Mullen, and David Clifford also chipped in. Donegal had Jonathan Byrne to thank for a fine save that kept his side in the game late in the half. Donegal had to shift the chess pieces to try and get some change from the Blues back line. Emlyn Mulligan was moved from corner forward to center forward to get more involved, and towards the end of the half Donegal narrowed the gap to two points with two Mulligan frees and a fine effort from Smyth.
|Try as they might, Donegal could not turn the Blues.|
The Blues added to their lead with an opportunist goal from the boot of Roche. The corner forward appeared to have lost control of the ball and casually hit it with the outside of his left foot; the Donegal defenders and keeper froze as the ball nestled into the far side of the goal. Donegal now had a sizeable gap to close and pushed hard to try and close it. A Mulligan free and Ephraim McFadden point reduced the gap to a score, however, Roche and Dwyer restored the difference with points in quick succession.
The Blues seemed content to maintain the status quo and held Donegal at bay. Once inside the final third Donegal found it hard to make the opening to get a shot off as the Blues defenders were not giving away much in the final third, and options looked sparse for Donegal. As the clock wound down Donegal accepted that it was not going to be their day, and for the Blues, a great beginning to the year and sets up next weekend’s championship opener nicely.
Blues: D. O’Brien, S. Kelly, T. Wallace, D. Clifford, L. O’Connell, C, Mullen, W. Guthrie, G. Horan, C. Fitzgerald, P. Murray, O. Dolan, D. Roche, B. Dwyer. Donegal: J. Byrne, D. McBride, M. Canny, S. Doherty, T. McCleneghan, D. Doherty, G. Gallagher, M. Smyth, C. McDevitt, E. McFadden, P. McLaughlin, E. Mulligan, C. Hughes.