Donegal’s hopes of qualifying for the All Ireland minor final came to an end in Croke Park when they were beaten by a very impressive Galway side.
Shaun Paul Barrett’s side battled bravely to the end, but they were always chasing this game and despite a late goal from Enda McCormick, they were unable to peg back Galway’s lead.
Donegal were completely outplayed at times during the first half but kept plugging away.
With one change from the team that played Cork - Aaron Deeney replacing Odhrán Shields - Donegal started well with the opening two points inside four minutes, Niall O'Donnell converting from a free after Enda McCormick was fouled, while Eoghan McGettigan finished a patient move.
But there were warning signs also as the Galway full-forward line looked extremely dangerous with Donegal a little nervy.
Galway were ahead in the fifth minute when the Donegal defence failed to deal with a high ball and it fell kindly to Robert Finnerty to fire home from close range. Almost immediately Evan Murphy added a point and when Donegal full-back Aaron McCrea fouled dangerman Desmond Conneely, Finnerty pointed the free.
Eoghan McGettigan got a point back but it was Galway who were asking all the questions. Barry Goldrick blazed wide after Donegal again coughed up possession while Finnerty added three points (two frees) to open the gap to 1-5 to 0-3 in the 18th minute, the latter coming after Donegal allowed a sideline go all the way to Finnerty's hands.
Donegal hit a brace of points inside a minute in the 24th minute, Niall O'Donnell and Jason McGee pointing and before half-time a soft free allowed Desmond Connelly to point a free while Donegal finished well with JD Boyle pointing with the last kick of the half.
Half-time: Donegal 0-6, Galway 1-6.
The Connaught champions knocked over a couple of early scores after half time, but Donegal kept in touch with scores from McGee and Mogan (2).
However, a big moment arrived on 50 minutes when Galway struck for their second goal, Desmond Conneely finishing a three-man move to put his team 2-9 to 0-9 in front.
That goal put Galway into a very strong position, but credit to Donegal, they refused to throw in the towel. McCormick scored a brilliant goal with four minutes left to give his team some renewed hope and reduce the lead to just three points.
But despite 5 minutes of injury time, Donegal were unable to find an all-important second goal and lost in the end by four points.
Donegal: Gavin Mulreany; Seaghan Ferry, Aaron McCrea, Mark Curran; JD Boyle (0-1), Aaron Deeney, Aidan McLaughlin; Jason McGee (0-2, 1’45), Kieran Gallagher; Nathan Boyle, Niall O'Donnell (0-2,1f), Enda McCormick (1-0); Peadar Mogan (0-3, 2f), Eoghan McGettigan (0-2), Odhrán McFadden-Ferry. Subs., Odhrán Shields for McLaughlin 25, Shane McGrath for N Boyle 38, Brian O’Donnell for Ferry (b card) 40, Gary Molloy (0-1) for JD Boyle 44,
Galway: Cormac Haslam; Cein Darcy, Seán Mulkerrin, Eoin McFadden; Adam Quirke, Ernán McDonagh, Fionnán Garvey (0-1); Seán Raftery, John Maher; Finian O Laoi, Evan Murphy (0-2, 1f), Ryan Forde; Robert Finnerty (1-5,2f), Desmond Conneely (1-2, 2f), Barry Goldrick (0-1). Subs., Ross Murphy (0-1) for Maher 53.
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).