Donegal 3-17 Derry 0-13
Donegal won their first Ulster U21 Football Championship title since 2010 with a 3-17 to 0-13 win over Derry at the Athletic Grounds to set up Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final clash with Dublin.
The Oak Leafers had to play most of the second half with 14 men following the dismissal of full back Oisin Duffin, but battled bravey until the closing stages, when they conceded two late goals.
Donegal had just gone ahead with Lorcan Connor’s second point when they created a goal chance. Eoghan Ban Gallagher made the defence-splitting run, with Tony McCleneghan in support, but the latter’s shot was superbly saved by Ben McKinless.
Michael Langan drove two ‘45s between the posts, but Danny Tallon’s three converted frees kept the Oak Leaf side in touch, and another placed ball score, this time from Shane McGuigan, narrowed the gap to a point at the end of the opening quarter.
Dean Curran provided the lay-off for Derry’s first score from play, Conor Doherty bringing them level, before Slaughtneil star McGuigan gave Derry the lead for the first time on 21 minutes.
Donegal’s massed defence struggled to contain the movement and quick hands, but they survived a difficult spell to go level again through Jamie Brennan.
And Declan Bonner’s side finished the half with a 1-4 blitz, Jason McGee hitting two wonderful long range points, and Connor got on the end of Jamie Brennan’s flying soccer-style dribble to finish to the net from close range in the 29th minute.
Donegal led by 1-8 to 0-7 at the break, and increased the advantage with scores from Connor and Cian Mulligan, who opened out a six points lead.
Derry lost their most dangerous attacker Shane McGuigan to a black card, and soon afterward were reduced to 14 men when full back Oisin Duffin, who had earlier been booked was sent off on black/red cards.
Langan and Connor drilled frees between the posts, but Derry worked hard to create scores for Cathal Mulholland and Peter Hagan.
And when skipper Niall Keenan made a brilliant goal-line stop to deny Brennan, before racing upfield to slot over a point, they were still in the hunt, training by five points with ten minutes to play.
However, the numerical handicap was soon to become too much for a courageous Oak Leaf side to handle.
Donegal were able to pick holes in the defensive set-up of a tiring opponent, and Michael Carroll and Conor Morrison both went through for fisted scores.
Substitute Ethan O’Donnell sprinted through for a solo goal with five minutes to play, and midfielder Carroll punched home his side’s third goal in stoppage time.
Donegal: D Rodgers; C Morrison (0-01), S McMenamin, B McCole; C Mulligan (0-01), D Ó Baoill, E Bán Gallagher (0-01); T McClenaghan, J McGee (0-02); M Carroll (1-02), S McBrearty, C Kelly; L Connor (1-05 (0-5f), M Langan (0-03, 1f, 2 ’45), J Brennan (0-1).
Subs: C Doherty for Kelly (24), N O’Donnell (0-01) for McBreaty (40), E O’Donnell (1-00) for Doherty (53), C McLaughlin for Connor (56), C McGonigle for Langan (58), D Monagle for Mulligan (60)
Derry: B McKinless; N Keenan (0-01), O Duffin, C McGrogan; C Mulholland (0-01), M McEvoy, J Curran (0-01); J Doherty (0-01), P Kearney; P Hagan (0-02, 1f), D Curran, P Coney (0-01); D Tallon (0-04, 4f), S McGuigan (0-01), C Doherty (0-01).
Subs: T Flanagan for McGuigan (BC 35), E McGill for Curran (43), J Donaghy for Doherty (43), F Kearney for Coney (56)
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).