DONEGAL 0-10 DERRY 0-11
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT ST TIERNACH’S PARK
CONOR Glass kicked seven points as Derry scored a surprise win over Ulster minor championship favourites Donegal.
Glass was the big difference on a day that saw Declan Bonner’s side fail to reach the dizzying heights they’d hit in the wins over Tyrone and Armagh.
On a dramatic evening in Clones, Donegal could have stolen the win late in the day. With thirty seconds of the three minutes of added time remaining, Donegal –trailing by two at the time – were awarded a penalty, but Conor Doherty’s effort flew over the crossbar.
It would have been rough justice on Derry had Donegal snatched the win for the Oak Leaf had been the better side. This was a bitterly disappointing defeat for Donegal, who had been one of the sides tipped to last ‘til September but now their season is over.
Donegal began brightly with Ethan O’Donnell popping over a 13-metre ftee amd Conor Doherty expertly finding the range from out on the left flank.
Conor Glass and Patrick Kearney were dominating the midfield exchanged and it was the flame-haired Glass who turned the tide in Derry’s favour with two 45s and a free.
Even when Doherty drew Donegal level again, Derry’s response was instant as the on-song Kearney landed a magnificent point from long range.
Donegal had to concern themselves as much with off-field matters since overcoming Armagh at the start of the month. Not only had they to contend with half the panel sitting their Leaving Certificate exams, but two players had to contest eight-week suspensions following an incident at half-time in the clash at the Athletic Grounds.
It had been a trying month for Bonner and his squad, having previously been embroiled in a war of words with Tyrone following allegations of serious sledging against Donegal captain Michael Carroll.
By half-time here, Donegal were in trouble. Derry were on top and the Oak Leaf led by two at the interval with the excellent Kearney and Shane McGuigan on the mark in the dying moments of the first half.
When Glass, twice, and McGuigan pointed to stretch the Derry lead out to five points, the writing was on the wall for Donegal, but Bonner’s boys refused to wilt without a fight.
Rory Carr hit their first point in 17 minutes when he landed a ’45 and, after frees from O’Donnell and Doherty, Carr stepped up to nail a 55-metre free straight out of the Michael Murphy catalogue.
A Donegal goal seemed imminent when Doherty raced through, but Derry, whose defensive set up kept their opponents at bay for the most part, had bodies back and Shea Downey intercepted.
Two Glass points kept Derry in control and they managed to survive a late scare when Doherty’s penalty cleared Callum Mullan-Young’s crossbar.
DONEGAL: Danny Rodgers; Seaghan Ferry, Stephen McMenamin, Gary McFadden; Dáire Ó Baoill, Brendan McCole, Philip McNern; Jason McGee, Michael Carroll; Niall O’Donnell, Michael Langan, Ethan O’Donnell (0-4, 4f); Conor Doherty (0-3, 1f, 1pen), Rory Carr (0-3, 1 ’45, 1f), Naoise Ó Baoill. Subs: Mark Coyle for N.O’Donnell (half-time), Kane Barrett for McCole (34 mins), Eoghan McGettigan for N.Ó Baoill (53 mins), Philip Doherty for Langan (56 mins).
DERRY: Callum Mullan-Young; Niall Keenan, Conor McGrogan, Conor Maunsall; Oisin Duffin, Michael McEvoy, Eoghan Concannon; Patrick Kearney (0-1), Jack Doherty; Patrick Coney, Shea Downey, Conor Glass (0-7, 2 ’45, 3f); Tiarnan Flanagan, Barry Grant, Shane McGuigan (0-3, 1f). Subs: Feargal Higgins for Grant (38 mins), Niall McAtamney for Duffin (54 mins), Brian Cassidy for Kearney (54 mins).
REFEREE: Sean Laverty (Antrim)