Donegal are Ulster Minor Football League champions following a comfortable victory over Tyrone in Brewster Park, Enniskillen.
Five points separated the sides at the end of what was an open enough encounter with Donegal much the better organised outit for most of the game. And indeed but for a number of top drawer saves from Patrick O’Neill, in the Tyrone goals, the margin of victory could have been much greater for Declan Bonner’s charges.
Lorcan Connor with a goal and four points was Donegal’s top scorer while John Campbell, four points, and Coalan McGonagle, three points, carried the main scoring threat for the winners.
Connor scored all four points in the first half and he also converted from the penlaty spot in the middle of the second period, to restore his team’s seven point advanatge seconds after Lee Brennan had reduced the gap between the teams to four for the first time since the end of the first half.
Donegal led by five at half-time 0-10 to 1-2, after a lightning start and a good close to the half.
QUICK FROM BLOCKS
Donegal broke from the blocks at breakneck pace and had four points on the board inside the first five minutes. Lorcan Connor, who was really buzzing in the opening minutes, popped over the first two points inside a minute
Ethan O’Donnell, Connor again, Campbell and McGonagle all popped over points as rampant Donegal raced into a 0-6 to 0-0 lead by the 12 minute mark.
Tyrone’s first score a goal did not come until 14 minutes into the game. And it was very much against the run of play when Lee Brennan - one of six starters from last year’s All-Ireland minor final - capitalised on some sloppiness in the Donegal rearguard.
Amazingly when four minutes later James Darcy knocked over Tyrone’s first point of the day, there was only two between the teams and all Donegal’s good early work was undone.
But after a short breather the Campbell, McGonagle and Connor combination struck again to send their side in five points to the good at half-time.
Tyrone, with the wind in their backs, scored two points to Donegal’s one in the early minutes of the second period to hint of a revival.
And while O’Neill in the Tyrone goal pulled off the first of his point blank saves to deny Niall Friel, Donegal were back in the driving seat once more following big points from Campbell, Connor and Michael Carroll.
When Darcy, who along with Lee Brennan and David Mulgrew carried the main threat up front for the Red Hands, scored his team’s second goal to make it a five point game with ten minutes left on the clock, there was a chink a hope once again for Tyrone.
Tyrone outscored Donegal by three points to two in the closing nine minutes but late strikes from Campbell and substitute Michael Millar, meant that Donegal were always comfortable
Tyrone played the closing 15 minutes with 14 players after Cormac O’Hagan received a straight red card for challenge on Carroll.
Donegal: D Rodgers; D Monagle, K Gillespie, C Morrision; C Mulligan, T McClenaghan, E ‘Ban’ Gallagher; Niall Harley, C McGonagle (0-3,1f); J Campbell (0-4,2f), L Connor (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2f), M Carroll (0-2); J Brennan, E O’Donnell (0-1), N Friel. Subs: M Miller (0-1) for E O’Donnell (33, inj); C O’Boyle for D Monagle (45); G McMcBride for M Carroll (55); S McMenamin for K Gillespie (56, inj); C Bonner for J Campbell (58); A McClean for G McBride (61, black card)
Tyrone: P O’Neill; D Mullan, P O’Neill, N Kelly; R Samir, R Quinn, E McGarrity (0-1); P Teague, R Nugent; D Mulgrew, C McKenna (0-1), J Darcy (1-3); L Brennan (1-2,1f), C O’Hagan, F McClure. Subs: T Kearney for F McClure 8, inj: P McGirr for R Quinn h/t; J Lafferty for P Teague 45.
Referee: K Trainor (Down).