Donegal powered to the Ulster Under-21 title tonight as they roared past 14-man Derry in the final at the Athletic Grounds.
Donegal 3-17 Derry 0-13
By Chris McNulty at The Athletic Grounds
Lorcan Connor, Ethan O’Donnell and Michael Carroll netted the goals as Donegal won by 13 points in the end up to take the title back to Donegal for the first time since 2010.
It wasn’t always a stroll and it took the opening goal, scored with a minute remaining in the first half, for Donegal to shake Derry from their grasp.
It was scored by Lorcan Connor, but the credit for it must go to Jamie Brennan – who left with the Man of the Match award.
The Bundoran flier set off on a rousing soccer-style dribble that took him around 60 metres before an unselfish off-load teed Connor up for the finish.
It was a goal that gave Donegal a real kick and Jason McGee’s point soon after put them four up (1-8 to 0-7) ahead at half-time in front of 3,521.
Four minutes from the end, Donegal copper-fastened the win when, after Peter Hagan hit the crossbar at one end, Ethan O’Donnell was put clear by Dáire Ó Baoill an the Glenties lad finished.
There was still time for Carroll to palm home in added time as Donegal claimed a win to put them into an All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin on Saturday.
Derry suffered a hammer blow when Slaughtneil forward Shane McGuigan was black-carded five minutes into the second half for an off-the-ball trip on Conor Morrison.
It got even worse for Derry when Oisin Duffin was shown his marching orders five minutes later.
Already on a yellow card, Duffin got the full compliment of cards as he was black and, therefore, red carded for a foul on Eoghan Ban Gallagher right in front of goal.
Gallagher was lining up to rattle the net, after Brennan robbed a kick-out from Ben McKinless, when Duffin hauled him down.
Derry corner-back Niall Keenan made a goal-line block to keep out a flicked attempt from the stretching Brennan. Keenan burst forward to score a point as Derry kept fighting.
But Donegal finished well with Michael Carroll, Conor Morrison and Niall O’Donnell pointing before Ethan O’Donnell’s goal sealed the deal.
Colm Kelly, having not been in the panel for last week’s impressive semi-final win over Cavan in Enniskillen, came in to start, taking the place of Christy Fildara.
Donegal had a whopping 13 points to spare on Cavan as they served notice of their intensions in emphatic fashion, having been taken to a replay by Tyrone in the previous round.
Derry had already shown that they were no mugs as they went to Inniskeen and lowered the colours of the reigning champions, Monaghan, the Oak Leaf winning by five before defeating Armagh in extra time last week.
And Fergal P McCusker’s men weren’t here to make up numbers and fashioned a couple of goal chances in the first half as they breached the Donegal rearguard.
Donegal ‘keeper Danny Rodgers made a block to deny Danny Tallon, but it wasn’t the only time Derry got in behind, even if Donegal did have plenty of numbes back.
Donegal looked to be on their way when they worked their way into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 10th minute.
Michael Carroll fisted over after being put on his way by Tony McClenaghan to open up a three-point gap, with Langan landing a ’45 and Connor posting a pair of frees.
Donegal worked a goal chance of their own in that lively opening, but McClenaghan – when he could have lofted into the better-placed Jamie Brennan – saw a poweful effort turned away by Ben McKinless.
Derry turned the 4-1 deficit into a 0-6 to 0-4 advantage with McGuigan helping himself to a fine brace of points.
There was certainly an uneasy sort of feeling among the Tir Chonaill support at times; like that moment Patrick Coney was allowed have a snap-shot at goal, only to poke into Rodgers’ arms.
The worry for Donegal was the ease with which Derry found themselves in advanced positions and a side of greater refinement would have made them pay a price.
The sides were level four times in all until Connor raised the roof by netting the game’s first goal.
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Conor Morrison (0-1), Stephen McMenamin, Brendan McCole; Dáire Ó Baoill, Cian Mulligan (0-1), Eoghan Ban Gallagher (0-1); Tony McClenaghan, Jason McGee (0-2); Colm Kelly, Stephen McBrearty, Michael Langan (0-3, 2 ’45, 1f); Lorcan Connor (1-5, 5f), Jamie Brennan (0-1), Michael Carroll (1-2). Subs: Conor Doherty for Kelly (24), Niall O’Donnell (0-1) for McBrearty (41), Ethan O’Donnell (1-0) for Doherty (54), Christy Fildara for Connor (57), Caolan McGonagle for Langan (59), Danny Monagle for Mulligan (60).
Derry: Ben McKinless; Niall Keenan (0-1), Oisin Duffin, Conor McGrogan; Cathal Mulholland (0-1), Michael McEvoy, Jordan Curran (0-1); Jack Doherty (0-1), Patrick Kearney; Peter Hagan (0-2, 1f), Dean Curran, Patrick Coney (0-1); Danny Tallon (0-3, 3f), Shane McGuigan (0-2, 1f), Conor Doherty (0-1). Subs: Tiarnan Flanagan for McGuigan (black card, 36), Jamie Donaghy for Doherty (44), Eamonn Magill for Curran (44), Ciaran Feeney for McEvoy (54), Francis Kearney for Coney (59).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).Tags: