Donegal captured the intermediate title with a superb second half display as a three goal blitz rocked the Rangers. Once again their weapons of destruction were principally Justin Burke who hit for 1-6 and James Moynagh who had a tally of 2-3.
However the overall firepower and superior fitness of the Donegal team were telling factors as they left the Rangers in their wake in the second half. Rangers started well but their early attacks fell short of the mark.
Justin Burke opened the scoring with a goal after he converted a fine cross-field ball from Tommy Moran. Rangers were undaunted by the major strike and by the sixth minute they had wiped out the deficit with four points as Shane Horan, Ronan Caffrey and Dan Lehane hit the target. However Donegal responded with the next three points to lead by 1-3 to 0-5 midway in the period. Donegal continued to edge ahead though the strong running of Shane Horan and the support play Of Liam Hanley kept the Rangers on their tails. Donegal lead by 1-7 to 0-7 at the break as the Rangers wasted a good scoring opportunity right at the buzzer.
Both sides traded points on the resumption, but a goal on ten minutes had the sides level as a defense splitting move involving Hanley, Horan and Kevin Daly ended with Caffrey blasting the ball to the net. Rangers appeared to have the momentum as a foul on Daly ended with a Horan point and the lead. However the lead was short-lived as Moynagh was perfectly placed to finish the ball to the net after Mickey Annette and CJ Molloy set up the chance midway in the period. Burke and Caffrey sandwiched in points before this duo, Molloy and Annette combined well again for the latter to fire to the net. Donegal were now at full throttle as they bore down on the Ranger goal. Moynagh and substitute Vinny Gavin plus Sean Reilly hit the target.
Sporadic attacks from Rangers led to pointed frees from Horan, but Niall McMahon, PJ Flanagan and John Fitzgerald were giving little away at the back. Moynagh did add another goal to his impressive stats but at this stage the game was over as a contest. Donegal had plenty of depth in their ranks as was well illustrated by the return of Eamon Gunn to the team and the introduction of Vinnie Gavin.
Celtics will have to be content with their knockout title as they were well beaten in this game though O’Dwyer, Hanley, Horan, Caffrey, Jusifi and Caffrey certainly gave it their best shot.
Donegal: Brian Cullinan, Niall McMahon, John Fitzgerald, Ramie Kane, PJ Flanagan(capt), Conor Classon, Peter McNeilis, Alan Molloy, Eamon Gunn, Mickey Annette(1-0), Sean Reilly(0-1), Justin Burke(1-6), Tommy Moran, CJ Molloy(0-1), James Moynagh(2-3). Subs. Vinny Gavin(0-1), Mike Molloy, Kieran Tavey Ciaran Slattery, Brian Sweeney, Daniel Madden, Kevin Purce, Sean McGivney, Liam Deane, Simon Gillespie, Del Ferriera, Brendan Grant, Jack Donnelly
Rangers: Mike Sheridan, Mal McHugh, Donnacha O’Dwyer, Alan Carr, Ben Logan, Liam Hanley(0-1), Derek Courtney, Dan Lehane(0-1), Brian Hanamy, Kevin Daly, Shane Horan(0-6), Conor Hunter, Ronan Caffrey(1-4), Steven O’Shea, Adrian Jusifi. Subs. Sean Moynihan, Patrick O’Driscoll, John Power, Mike McCarthy, Lawrence Kennedy, Phil Kennedy, Mike Bishop, Kieran Moran, Roy Henley, Bernard Madden, Dean Murphy. Referee Alan Hearty, Man of the Match Justin Burke.