Donegal will meet Armagh in the Bank of Ireland Ulster football final after beating Derry by 1-09 to 0-10 in front of just 7,000 at rainswept Clones this afternoon. A second-half penalty from Adrian Sweeney proved the difference between the sides in a poor match, which was poorly attended as it clashed with Ireland's second round World Cup defeat to Spain. Derry finished with 13 men following the dismissals of Johnny McBride and Conleth Gilligan and must now face the qualifier series without full back Sean Martin Lockhart, who broke his arm in a late clash.
In greasy underfoot conditions because of the persistent heavy rain, Enda Muldoon opened the scoring for Derry early in the game, but points from Christy Toye, Brendan Devenney, Jimmy McGuinness, Sweeney and Paul McGonigle gave Donegal a 0-5 to 0-1 lead with half an hour gone. McBride, Paddy Bradley and Gavin Diamond replied for Derry before the break to leave them trailing by a single point at half-time and the latter struck in the first minute of the second-half to draw the sides level.
Five minutes into the half Donegal won a penalty when the lively Devenney was hauled down by goalkeeper Michael Conlon and Sweeney showed admirable composure to smash the ball home. Diamond and Bradley responded with well taken points to reduce the deficit to a point but scores from Sweeney and the influential Brian Roper maintained Donegal's three point advantage.
McBride and Gilligan were soon dismissed for second bookable offences and Donegal finished the stronger of the two with further scores from Christy Toye and Sweeney confirming Donegal's superiority to earn Mickey Moran's men a place in the Ulster final for the first time since 1998.
Filed by Shane Murray