DONEGAL EASED their way into an Ulster semi-final against Down in two weeks’ time following their victory over Derry at Celtic Park today.
Derry 0-16 Donegal 2-16
Declan Bonner’s team simply had too much scoring threat for their neighbours, who saw only two players from their starting XV score, Emmet Bradley and Mark Lynch.
Donegal’s Hugh McFadden celebrates his goal with Patrick McBrearty during Sunday’s Ulster SFC quarter final. Photo Evan Logan
Donegal, on the other hand, had plenty of offensive options, with Patrick McBrearty kicking eight points and Leo McLoone, Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh and Jamie Brennan all chipping in with scores.
A goal in each half – with Hugh McFadden blasting home the first and then Cian Mulligan the second – sealed the six-point win along reasonably expected lines. Down, victors over Antrim last night, now lie in wait at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones.
Donegal opened their campaign with a 2-20 to 1-15 win over Cavan earlier this month and continued that momentum to make a competent start on the Lone Moor Road, with McLoone scoring twice in the first eight minutes to establish a 0-4 to 0-0 lead.
Derry didn’t get on the board till the 10thminute, when Lynch scored the first of his five points but that was merely a prelude to Donegal’s opening goal.
Donegal lost Neil McGee to what looked like a hip injury, with Stephen McMenamin deputising.
On 12 minutes Shaun Patton, who continued his good form from the tee, saw his clearance bounce into the arms of Murphy, who fed McLoone. McFadden, on the run, was then located and his show went under Ben McKinless in the Derry goal.
It might’ve been early days, but Donegal had their cushion and they would never relinquish that. Each time Derry managed to get within five or six points, Donegal, through McBrearty in particular, would just press down on the accelerator.
One of his scores, from the stand side that dropped on top of the roof of the net, was right from the top drawer as Brendan Rogers struggled in the full-back spot.
McKinless in the Derry goal made a great save down to his right seven minutes before the break from McHugh, who had made the chance after playing a neat give-and-go with Frank McGlynn.
Donegal were 1-10 to 0-7 ahead at half-time, having kicked only two wides, while Derry would finish the day with 13.
Derry needed something out of the ordinary to give themselves a chance. However, besides Bradley, who was paddling a lonesome canoe, and the occasional free from Lynch, they never made any dents in Donegal.
Murphy, who scored an epic sideline ball at the same venue in 2014, popped over a well-judged 45 and McBrearty continued to torment Rogers, opting to punch over when in on goal and then blazing an effort wide.
Mulligan, who didn’t have to break stride, added a second Donegal goal with six minutes to go, piercing a shot across McKinless when he was set-up by Gaoth Dobhair clubmate Daire O Baoill. It was Mulligan’s second championship goal in as many outings having come off the bench against Cavan to net as well.
Derry knew their luck was out when Bradley, with their one goal chance, struck the Donegal post. For a team who haven’t covered themselves in glory in the qualifiers down the years it could be sink or swim for Derry. Donegal, on the other hand, are going nicely.
Derry:Ben McKinless; Paul McNeill, Brendan Rogers, Kevin Johnston; Karl McKaigue, Patrick Coney, Chrissy McKaigue; Michael Bateson, Emmet Bradley (0-8, 5f); Padraig Cassidy, Conor McAtamney, Sean Leo McGoldrick; Enda Lynn, Shane McGuigan, Mark Lynch (0-5, 4f). Subs: Liam McGoldrick and Jack Doherty for SL McGoldrick and Bateson (half-time), Carlus McWilliams for Rogers (52), Niall Toner (0-1) for McGuigan (54), James Kielt (0-2) and Peter Hagan for McAtamney and Cassidy (61).
Donegal:Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Paul Brennan, Frank McGlynn, Caolan Ward; Hugh McFadden (1-0), Michael Murphy (0-2, 45); Leo McLoone, Ryan McHugh (0-2), Ciaran Thompson; Michael Langan, Patrick McBrearty (0-8, 2f), Jamie Brennan (0-1). Subs: Stephen McMenamin for McGee (11), Odhran MacNiallais for Langan (half-time), Cian Mulligan (1-0) for P Brennan (44), Ciaran McGinley for Thompson (50), Daire O Baoill for McGrath (62), Mark McHugh for McGlynn (66).
Referee:Maurice Deegan (Laois)