Donegal minors qualified for the Ulster Minor League semi-final with one game still to play after another good display against Derry in MacCumhaill Park on Saturday.
The scoring power of Donegal was impressive with Conor Doherty, in particular, looking in sparkling form. That scoring spread is probably the one difference from the minors of 2015 and last year’s team.
It has been an impressive start to 2015 for Declan Bonner’s side, with big victories over Fermanagh, Tyrone and now Derry.
It was good day for Conor Doherty after the disappointment the previous Saturday in the All-Ireland semi-final with Colaiste na Carraige and he was at his best in a man of the match performance.
Donegal started without big midfielder Michael Carroll but Rory Carr filled in at midfield and performed really well.
Donegal gave an exhibition in the opening half, especially in the second quarter with all but one of their 13 scores from play.
Michael Langan and Brian Cassidy traded early points before Niall O’Donnell put Donegal ahead again. When Oisin Duffin found acres of space in front of the Donegal goal to set up Shane McGuigan to goal, it looked as Donegal had their work cut out.
But from there to half-time it was one-way traffic. Caolan McDaid, Daire O’Baoill and the lively Conor Doherty with his left had Donegal back in front and when Doherty cut the Derry defence to shreds, rounding his man and setting up Kane Barrett to goal, Donegal were on their way.
Shane McGuigan pointed a free but points from Michael Langan and Niall O’Donnell extended the lead before Doherty played a one-two with Michael Langan and powered home a second goal on 19 minutes.
The points continued to flow with Barrett (2) and Daire O’Baoill, taking the ball off the goalline at one end and then getting forward to point. Conor Doherty completed the first half scoring three minutes from the break.
Donegal were denied a third goal on the half-time whistle when Conor Doherty and Rory Carr set up Kane Barrett but he was denied at the expense of a ‘45’.
Within less than 50 seconds of the restart, Ethan O’Donnell, doing a lot of trojan work in deep positions, started the move which ended with Mark Coyle setting up Conor Doherty to point.
Niall O’Donnell added a second before Barry Grant had a pointed free for Derry, but in the next ten minutes Donegal put the final nails in the Derry coffin. On 33 minutes a great ball from Daire O’Baoill released Conor Doherty and he drew the defence before crossing for Kane Barrett to finish - the same combination as the opening goal.
Five minutes later it was Rory Carr who created the opening, putting Doherty through and he fired home the fourth goal.
Doherty and Mark Coyle added points while Danny Rodgers made a good stop from Patrick Cooney at the other end.
In the final quarter Donegal became a little disjointed with multiple substitutions. Rory Carr, Odhran McGinley and Kane Barrett (free) had points, but Derry got in for two goals from Conor Glass and Patrick Kearney that the Donegal defence and ‘keeper Danny Rodgers would not be happy with.
But there was never any doubt about the result with the spadework done by Donegal long before that.
Donegal play Antrim in the final Ulster Minor League game on Saturday next in Fr. Tierney Park, Ballyshannon, safe in the knowledge that they are already qualified for the semi-final, which will be a home tie in MacCumhaill Park.
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Gary McFadden, Stephen McMenamin, Seaghan Ferry; Daire O’Baoill (0-2), Brendan McCole, Naoise O’Baoill; Nathan Gavigan, Rory Carr (0-1); Michael Langan (0-2), Niall O’Donnell (0-3), Conor Doherty (2-4); Ethan O’Donnell, Caolan McDaid (0-1), Kane Barrett (2-3,2f). Subs., Mark Coyle (0-1) for McDaid 27; Odhran McGinley (0-1) for N O’Baoill, Philip McNern for S Ferry, both 33; Eoghan McGettigan for O’Donnell 40; Ryan Greene for Doherty, Dylan Kennedy for McMenamin, both 43.
Derry: Ben McKinless; Shay Downey, Conor McGrogan, Conor Maunsell; Eoghan Concannon, Michael McEvoy, Oisin Duffin; Conor Glass (1-0), Patrick Kearney (1-0); Francis Kearney, Brian Cassidy (0-1), Seamus Higgins; Caolan Devlin, Shane McGuigan (1-4,1f), Barry Grant (0-1,f). Subs., Patrick Cooney for McEvoy 25; Jack Doherty for Higgins 32; Gerard McLaughlin for Maunsell 33; Michael Mullin (0-1) for F Kearney 45; Aidan Toner for Duffin 52.
Referee: Paul Falloon (Down)