CAOLAN WARD netted his first Donegal goal to seal a place in the semi-finals of the Dr McKenna Cup with a useful win over Derry.
Derry 0-8 Donegal 1-10
By Chris McNulty at Celtic Park
Ward (pictured) fired home on 57 minutes to take Donegal clear of Rory Gallagher’s Oak Leaf. Sent away by his St Eunan’s team-mate Conor O’Donnell, Ward took the pass on the run and a superb finish gave Derry goalkeeper Odhrán Lynch little chance of making a save.
The goal came after a spurt of Donegal points that helped open up a 0-9 to 0-4 advantage. When Ward struck gold, it was game, set and match for Donegal – who will now face Monaghan In a semi-final on Sunday.
A cagey first-half that never sparked to life ended with Donegal 0-4 to 0-2 in front.
Although Ryan Bell pulled one back for the home side, a fine point by Daire Ó Baoill on 50 minutes opened up a three-point lead.
Ethan O’Donnell added another as Donegal took a firm charge and, three minutes later, O’Donnell’s replacement, Andrew McClean, scored with his first touch.
Donegal were motoring now and a long-range Langan effort had Donegal ahead by five before Ward – who also scored a point in the first half – bagged the only goal of a crisp night on the Lone Moor Road.
Ryan Bell led a mini revival for Derry, but substitute Ciaran Diver landed his first Donegal senior point to help seal a five-point win.
A Peadar Mogan goal in the second half and a last-gasp penalty save by goalkeeper Shaun Patton secured a narrow win over Monaghan on Sunday.
Donegal showed four changes in personnel. Patton was unavailable meaning a debut in goal for Naomh Colmcille’s Michael Lynch.
Conor Morrison, O’Donnell and Michael Carroll were also elevated with Ryan McHugh, Daniel Clarke and Jamie Brennan making way.
Langan stroked over from a ’45 after three minutes to put Donegal in front after Daire Ó Baoill’s powerful shot was turned wide by Odhrán Lynch, the Derry goalkeeper.
Ryan Bell levelled things up, opting to tuck over the black spot just when it seemed as if a goal chance was opening up for the Ballinderry forward, who edged Brendan McCole in a jostle for possession.
Mogan landed a free out of his hands but again Derry responded as Emmett Bradley arched over a free from beyond the ’45.
Langan had a chance to restore the lead for Donegal, but the St Michael’s man – who was Man of the Match on Sunday – put a 21st minute free wide of the target.
Donegal remain without a number of their front-line men and the startling XV contained just one player – Eoghan McGettigan – who is recognised as an inside forward for his club. It made for an at-times laboured Donegal attack that was without a notable zip.
That, and Derry’s defensive screen, made for slim pickings for the Donegal attack, but Mogan put Donegal in front again and Caolan Ward landed a beauty from the left-hand side as the visitors led by two.
Derry: Odhrán Lynch; Conor McCluskey (0-1), Padraig McGrogan, Cathal Mulholland; Conor Doherty, Carlus McWilliams, Ryan Dougan; Emmett Bradley (0-1f), Ciaran McFaul; Danny Tallon, Niall Toner, Eoghan Duffy; Ben McCarron (0-1m), Ryan Bell (0-5, 2f), Conor McAtamney. Subs: Christopher Bradley for Toner (29), Declan Cassidy for McAtamney (48), Oran Armstrong for McCarron (53), Liam McGoldrick for Dougan (53), Oisin McWilliams for Duffy (57), Peter Hagan for O.McWillams (61).
Donegal: Michael Lynch; Caolan Ward, Brendan McCole, Paul Brennan; Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí, Conor O’Donnell, Conor Morrison; Caolan McGonagle, Michael Langan (0-2, 1f); Daire Ó Baoill (0-2), Eoin McHugh, Ethan O’Donnell (0-1); Peadar Mogan (0-2, 1f), Michael Carroll, Eoghan McGettigan. Subs: Ciaran Thompson for Carroll (47), Daniel Clarke for McGettigan (48), Andrew McClean (0-1) for O’Donnell (53), Ciaran Diver (0-1) for McHugh (57), Aaron Deeney for Ward (61).
Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim).Tags: