DONEGAL 4-09 MONAGHAN 1-05
By Chris McNulty in Omagh
DONEGAL made light work of conditions and Monaghan to storm into their third Ulster U21 final in a row last night.
Goals by Jack O’Brien and Lorcan Connor steered Donegal into a commanding nine-point lead at the break against 14-man Monaghan, who had Conor Lavelle sent off after 25 minutes.
After Monaghan threatened to hit back when Conor McCarthy netted, Donegal merely turned the screw and a brace in the second half from Ciaran Thompson and Connor made it a lopsided scoreline by the end.
Conditions were such that former Donegal football star Martin McHugh blasted at half-time: “The first thing we should look at is the safety of the players. The referee made the wrong call. People are always talking about the day we played Derry in 1993 – that was worse.”
A late inspection passed the pitch, but a messy opening ensued with Ryan McAnespie and Darach O’Connor trading points before Donegal took complete control in the latter passage of the first period.
Donegal – who ended Cavan’s drive for five two weeks ago – scored 2-4 in the closing seven minutes of the half. O’Brien palmed home from Conor Morrison’s centre in the 27th minute and just two minutes later Connor latched onto Ryan McHugh’s pass to net.
Hugh McFadden (2), Willie Gillespie and Ciaran Thompson hit points and, with Lavelle gone, the passage to the semis was effectively sealed.
The teams were level at a point apiece after 23 minutes, when the game eventually got underway after a delay because of flodlight failure, but Donegal took control.
Monaghan were given a glimmer of hope when McCarthy batted home as Donegal ‘keeper Danny Rodgers lost the flight of Kevin Loughran’s ball into the mixer.
But Donegal clicked again. After David Kirk saved from influential sub Gillespie, Thompson fired in from the rebound.
It got even better when Connor got his second and Donegal’s fourth goal after an industrious run by Eamon McGrath.
DONEGAL: D Rodgers; C Morrison, C Parke, J O’Brien (1-0); O Crawford, R McHugh, E Gallagher; C Thompson (1-2), H McFadden (0-2, 1f); D Mulgrew, E McHugh (0-1), T McClenaghan; L Connor (2-0), D McDaid (0-1, 1f), D O’Connor (0-1). Subs: E McGrath for Mulgrew (black card, 15 mins), W Gillespie (0-1) for Crawford (22 mins), S McBrearty for McGrath (34 mins), E McGrath (0-1) for McDaid (46 mins), J Brennan for O’Connor (52 mins), C O’Donnell for McClenaghan (56 mins)
MONAGHAN: D Kirk; R Wylie, M Murnaghan, K Loughran; D Ward (0-1), S Conlon, F Malone; C Lavelle, B Greenan; R McAnespie (0-1), D McAllister, P Keenan; C McCarthy (1-1, 1f), F McGeough (0-1, 1f), F McMahon (0-1, 1f). Subs: D Meegan for McMahon (h-t), A Traynor for Conlon (50 mins), M McCarville for Keenan (52 mins), A Kieran for Ward (black card, 59 mins).
REFEREE: Kieran Trainor (Down)