Saturday 18 November 2017

Exciting Donegal young guns secure Ulster Under-21 title with resounding victory

Donegal 3-17 Derry 0-13

Donegal players celebrate with the Cup
Donegal players celebrate with the Cup

Orla Bannon

They came into the game with a big reputation, and the staggering quality of Donegal’s players shone bright under the lights in the Athletic Grounds as the county won a first provincial title at this grade since 2010.

The likes of Jason McGee, Jamie Brennan and Eoghan Ban Gallagher are not the next generation, they are the here and now, and they proved it against 14-man Derry, to set up a mouth-watering All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin on Saturday.

Lorcan Connor’s goal had Donegal in front 1-8 to 0-7 at the break, and Derry’s challenge faded when defender Oisin Duffin was sent off 10 minutes after the restart.

The dismissal of top forward Shane McGuigan to a black card also deflated Derry and Donegal finished strongly with two goals in the last five minutes from Ethan O’Donnell and Michael Carroll.

It was cagey stuff in the opening 10 minutes, and the opening four scores were all from placed balls.

The game then opened up with both teams kicking lovely scores from distance. McGuigan briefly put Derry in front at 0-6 to 0-5.

Donegal joint captains Eoghan Ban Gallagher, left, and Tom McCleneghan lift the Cup
Donegal joint captains Eoghan Ban Gallagher, left, and Tom McCleneghan lift the Cup

Donegal’s first goal was all about the speed and composure of Brennan, who broke clear and controlled the ball on the ground, rolling it across for the unmarked Connor to tap in.

Two refereeing decisions went against Derry which cost them any hope of a revival. McGuigan was black-carded on the advice of the assistant referee for a trip on Conor Morrison.

Five minutes later they were reduced to 14 when Duffin picked up a black card followed by a red.

Brennan tormented the Derry defence and 10 different Donegal players got on the scoresheet in a convincing display.

Scorers – Donegal: L Connor 1-5 (0-5fs), M Carroll 1-2, E O’Donnell 1-0, M Langan 0-3 (2 ‘45’s, 1f), J McGee 0-2, J Brennan, C Mulligan, N O’Donnell, C Morrison, EB Gallagher 0-1 each. Derry:  D Tallon 0-3fs, S McGuigan (1f), P Hagan (1f) 0-2 each, P Coney, C Doherty, J Doherty, C Mulholland, J Curran, N Keenan 0-1 each.

Donegal – D Rodgers; C Morrison, C Kelly, E Ban Gallagher; D O Baoill, T McClenaghan, B McCole; M Carroll, J McGee; J Brennan, S McMenamin, S McBrearty; L Connor, M Langan, C Mulligan. Subs: C Doherty for Kelly (24), N O’Donnell for McBrearty (41), E O’Donnell for Doherty (53), C McLaughlin for Connor (58).

Derry – B McKinless; N Keenan, O Duffin, C McGrogan; C Mulholland, M McEvoy, J Curran; J Doherty, P Kearney; P Hagan, D Curran, P Coney; D Tallon, S McGuigan, C Doherty. Subs: T Flanagan for McGuigan (BC, 35), E Magill for Curran (44), J Donaghy for Doherty (44), C Feeney for McEvoy (54), F Kearney for Coney (59).

Ref – S Hurson (Tyrone).

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