Donegal 1-12 Dublin 1-11
Donegal are through to their first ever All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final after they beat Dublin by a point in a brilliant semi-final at Croke Park.
Late scores from Stephen McBrearty, the younger brother of senior star Paddy, and substitute Ethan O’Donnell saw them squeeze past a stern Dubs challenge.
In injury-time the Boys in Blue had two tough chances to level it and force extra-time, but both of captain Con O’Callaghan’s difficult long-range dead ball efforts fell short.
Kerry beat Mayo with a bit to spare in the first semi-final and await Declan Bonnar’s team in the decider on 21 September at Croke Park.
Donegal were on the ropes and in danger of being on the receiving end of a knock-out blow after 22 minutes as they trailed by five points to one.
The Dubs were getting on top in the middle third, they were starting to find their range and the Ulster champions were beginning to look out of the depth.
But in the ten minutes played, including injury-time before the break, they showed what they were capable of.
Classy full-forward John Campbell got the ball rolling when he fisted to the net past Dublin goalkeeper Elven Whelan, who was diving full-length.
Campbell then tagged on two points and all of a sudden Donegal were ahead and in the driving seat.
Chris Sallier was able to muster the Dubs’ only response before the interval, a badly-needed point, and they went in behind at 0-06 to 1-08.
In an excellent second half of football the pendulum swung back and forth as the teams seized the initiative and then handed it back.
The Dubs hit the front when Jack Burke scored a goal, benefiting from quick thinking by Con Basquel and O’Callaghan.
Basquel hit a quick free to O’Callaghan and the team skipper tapped it down to Burke, who still had a bit of work to do.
Donegal finished off with the last three points of the game, which included one from the impressive McBrearty.
Right at the end O’Callaghan, who led his team well, had two late chances.
The first was from distance and a tough strike for a right footer on the right hand side of the pitch. The second was a 45 from his better side.
The shots just didn’t have the legs though and it mightn’t have helped that the teenager was the subject of unsporting boos as he lined up his kicks from the Donegal fans.
Both of these teams came into the game highly-rated and with genuine ambitions of winning the All-Ireland title.
This was also the first time ever that the same four teams made the senior and minor All-Ireland semi-finals - and in each case they were provincial champions too.
Winning manager Bonnar was himself an All-Ireland winner in 1992, when Donegal also beat the Dubs.
Donegal: D Rodgers, D Monagle, C Gillespie, C Kelly, S McMenamin, T McCleneghan, C Mulligan (0-02), N Harley, C McGonigle, S McBrearty (0-04), L Connor (0-03, 2f), M Carroll, J Brennan, J Campbell (1-02), N Friel.
Subs: C Morrison for N Friel (black card), E O’Donnell (0-01) for N Harley, G McBride for J Brennan, C Doherty for J Campbell, C Bonner for C Kelly.
Dublin: E Whelan, M Murchan, J Mullins, D Monahan, A McGowan, S Clayton, G O’Reilly, A Foley, E McHugh (0-01), C Kavanagh (0-01), C Basquel (0-01), J Burke (1-01), A Byrne (0-01), C O’Callaghan (0-04, 2f), C Sallier (0-02).
Subs: R McBride for C Kavanagh, D McIlgorm for A Foley, W Egan for A Byrne, A Fee for A McGowan.
Referee: D O’Mahony (Tipperary)