| 9.1°C Dublin

The game at a glance

Man of the match: Michael Hegarty (Donegal): There was a long list of potential candidates on the Donegal side but for the vision and calm authority he brought to their play across the half-forward line, Michael Hegarty gets the nod ahead of Michael Murphy and Karl Lacey.

Turning point

It was an arm wrestle until Derry goalkeeper Danny Devlin's clumsy and needless charge on Michael Murphy just after half-time earned Donegal a penalty which Murphy slammed home. The goal gave Donegal breathing space to force their defensive press even more on this Ulster final.

Talking point

From where they were last year this is a magnificent management achievement from Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher. They devised a gameplan, stuck rigidly to it and, ugly as it is, it claimed a first Ulster title in 19 years for the county. Who can argue with that?

Ref watch

The Derry manager John Brennan was angry with Maurice Deegan over the penalty award just after half-time that gave Donegal the initiative and a subsequent decision to give Emmett McGuckin a penalty at the other end later on.

Both calls were contentious but generally Deegan did his best to allow this game to flow and regularly allowed advantage to suit this policy. He is, right now, arguably the best referee in Gaelic football.

What they said

Jim McGuinness (Donegal manager):

"It's all down to the players, they've worked hard, they've knuckled down, it was the same group of players that came in for an awful lot of criticism (after the Crossmaglen qualifier defeat to Armagh). We're just delighted that they got an opportunity to turn that around and to prove to the people of Ulster that they are contenders for provincial championships."

John Brennan (Derry manager):

"I had a better view of the penalty than the referee. He awarded the penalty. He was over 60 metres away. He was asked to consult his umpires (about the incident) and he refused to. We should be allowed to ask a referee about why he awards something. I don't care if people think I'm wrong or it's breaking GAA rules. That is wrong."

Match statistics

Wides: Donegal 9 (6); Derry 11 (8)

Frees: Donegal 16 (10); Derry 29 (9)

Yellow Cards: Donegal 3 (M Murphy 42, M McHugh 70, M Hegarty 72); Derry 3 (M Bateson 25, D McBride 42, M Friel 64)

Attendance: 28,364

What next?

Donegal await the All-Ireland quarter-finals on July 30/31 or August 6. Derry meet Kildare in a fourth-round qualifier next weekend.

Irish Independent