Thanks to a magnificent display from Patrick McBrearty, Donegal U-21s eased past Fermanagh in the quarter-final in MacCumhaill Park.
McBrearty ended with a personal tally of 1-7 and was involved in almost all of Donegal scores. It was the Kilcar man that got them going when they struggled for a while at the start.
With the wind whipping up to gale force, it was never going to pretty in Ballybofey last night.
Fermanagh had the strong wind in the opening half and should have had a goal after five minutes when Donegal corner-back Andrew McCloskey failed to collect and Thomas McCaffrey was straight through on goal. He opted to lob the ‘keeper but his effort went well over the crossbar.
Eddie Courtney from a free and Louis Leonard found the range to put Fermanagh three clear but Donegal senior Patrick McBrearty then took a hand. He pointed a free after Marty O’Reilly was fouled and even though Courtney added another free, McBrearty was beginning to get into the game. He pointed another free after Ryan McHugh was tackled late.
Courtney added his third free on 21 minutes but Donegal took over in the final ten minutes added 2-2 to take a very healthy 2-4 to 0-5 lead to the dressing room at half-time
McBrearty started the purple patch with his first point from play and then he was involved in the first goal on 28 minutes, his effort for a point dropping short and Willie Gillespie got the touch to send the ball to the net.
Ciaran Thompson hit a wonder point against the breeze before Ciaran Brennan added a second, albeit from a mishit shot which deceived the Fermanagh ‘keeper.
It was a very good position for the Donegal side, who only came to life in the final minutes of the half.
The strength of the wind could not be exaggerated, but the two points by McB rearty and Thompson from play were magnificent efforts
McBrearty took off where he left off within minutes of the restart lobbing two more magnificent efforts.
The Kilcar man continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over and when Hugh McFadden was pulled down for a penalty in the final minute, McBrearty coolly slotted home from the spot.
Apart from McBrearty, Ryan McHugh had an influential role with Ciaran Thompson, Willie Gillespie, Martin O’Reilly and Conor Parke also putting in solid shifts.
Donegal started without senior player Darach O’Connor, who picked up a hamstring injury in the McLarnon final against St. Eunan’s.
The game saw minor Lorcan Connor make his U-21 debut after hitting 1-5 for the mionors against Fermanagh the previous night.
Scorers: Donegal - Patrick McBraerty 1-7,3f,1-0 pen; Ciaran Brennan , Willie Gillespie Thompson 1-0 each; Ryan McHugh, Hugh McFadden, Ciaran Thompson 0-1 each.
Fermanagh: Eddie Courtney 0-3, 3f; Louis Leonard, Thomas McCaffrey, Eoin McManus (f) 0-1 each.
Donegal progress to the Ulster semi-final which will not be played until the first Wednesday in April.
Donegal: Joe Coll; Conor Parke, Ciaran Brennan, Andrew McCloskey; Eoin McHugh, Ryan McHugh, Gavin Gallagher; Brendan McNelis, Hugh McFadden;Marty O’Reilly, Patrick McBrearty, Eunan Doherty; Dara Mulgrew, Ciaran Thompson, William Gillespie. Subs., Lorcan Connor for Mulgrew 40; Gary Clancy for McNelis 48; Barry Griffin for Doherty 54; Ciaran Cannon for E McHugh 55
Fermanagh: Paddy Sweeney; Kevin McDonnell, Che Cullen, Eoin Hamill; Niall Shannon, Lee Cullen, Sean McManus; Ryan Lyons, Ryan Hyde; Daniel Teague, Ruairi Corrigan, Louis Leonard; Thomas McCaffrey, Eddie Courtney, Eoin McManus. Subs., Leight Jones for McCaffrey 28; J Allen for Lyons 39; B McAleer for McManus 47; N Carson for S McManus 60
Referee: Donal Connolly (Monaghan)