A great end to the first half lay the platform for a win that was easy in the end for Donegal minors in Clones
Donegal hit 1-2 in the final minutes of the first half and then 1-3 in the first six minutes of the second half to virtually put this game to bed.
Donegal struggled for long periods of the first half to put their stamp on the game. They hit the first three points with Stephen McBrearty and Lorcan Connor from play and a free, but thereafter they just couldn’t shake off an Antrim side that were nothing like the side they met in the Minor League.
On four occasions, they had shots that dropped short into the Antrim ‘keeper’s hands.
Danny Rodgers had to make a great save from Ryan McNulty with Odhran Eastwood pointing from the rebound. This was to happen again in the 21st minute when Rodgers denied Brendan Corr with corner back Padraig Mackle pointin. That point actually put Antrim on level terms for the first time 0-5 to 0-5.
Ruairi Scott, immaculate from placed balls, edged Antrim in front with a 45m free, but Donegal finished the half well. Lorcan Connor levelled with his fourth point of the half before Ethan O’Donnell was introduced and won a free with his first play for Connor to push Donegal ahead and then with the final play of the half, Donegal created a goal of quality.
Tony McClenaghan was the architect, bursting forward and finding Jamie Brennan. McClenaghan took the return before releasing Ethan O’Donnell who finished with some style from a difficult angle and leave Donegal ahead by 1-7 to 0-6.
Ethan O’Donnell was again to the fore at the start of the second half winning a free for Connor and then pointing himself before a great move saw Niall Harley send Caolan McGonigle through the middle and he set up Jamie Brennan for the second goal and a 2-9 to 0-6 lead.
From there to the finish it was a stroll for Donegal. They could afford to lose Tony McClenaghan to a black card but up front Connor and Brennan were able to add to their tally at will.
Michael Carroll, McGonigle and Stephen McBrearty got in the scoring act, while Antrim were limited to few opportunities with Donegal only conceding three second half frees.
Brendan Corr got an Antrim goal on 46 minutes after it seemed that Eoghan Ban Gallagher was fouled. Conor Mallon hit two more points for the Saffrons and the half-back was their top scorer from play.
But overall, it was a leisurely passage for Declan Bonner’s boys to an Ulster final where they will meet either Monaghan (who defeated Tyrone on Saturday night) or Armagh.
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Danny Monagle, Kieran Gillespie, Colm Kelly; Cian Mulligan (0-1), Tony McClenaghan, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Niall Harley, Caolan McGonigle (0-1); Andrew McClean, Lorcan Connor(0-9,4f), Michael Carroll (0-1); Jamie Brennan (1-4), John Campbell, Stephen McBrearty (0-2). Subs., Ethan O’Donnell (1-1,0-1f) for Brennan 25; Niall Friel for McClenaghan 37 (black card); Conall O’Boyle for E Ban Gallagher 48; Christian Bonner for Mulligan 51; Conor Doherty for Harley 55; John McDyre for Kelly 58.
Antrim: Ryan O’Neill; Ronan Delargy, Tomas McGowran, Padraig Mackle (0-1); Peter Healy, Padraig McParland, Conor Mallon (0-3); Ruairi Scott (0-3,3f), Ryan McNulty; James McAuley, Conor Small, Liam Laverty; Seamus McGarry (0-1), Brendan Corr (1-0), Odhran Eastwood (0-1). Subs., Eunan Walsh for Laverty; Ben Rice for Eastwood, both 42; Ross Hannigan for McNulty 50; Cameron Flynn (0-1) for McAuley; Padraig McGreevy for Healy, both 59.
Referee: Kieran Trainor (Down)