Donegal are back in the Ulster U-21 final with a great display against Armagh in Cavan last night
Patrick McBrearty with eight points finished well against a stubborn Armagh side, who refused to throw in the towel. As well as McBrearty, the McHughs, Eoin and Ryan and Marty O’Reilly, especially in the second half stepped up to the mark.
Donegal had one change from the team that defeated Fermanagh with John O’Malley replacing Brendan McNelis. Donegal almost had the perfect start when Ryan McHugh found himself clear in front of goal with just 22 seconds gone, but he shot over.
Donegal were lethargic in the difficult conditions in the early minutes, especially around midfield. Armagh were back on terms on six minutes when they worked a short free and Miceal McKenna pointed.
Patrick McBrearty (free) and Joe McElroy traded scores by the ninth minute. McBrearty, thanks to great work by Eoin McHugh, put Donegal ahead again but Ciaran O’Hanlon levelled on 11 minutes. Then Donegal pulled four clear with some great scores, the best of them a hooked point from McBrearty. Ryan McHugh (free won by Eoin), McBrearty from a free and a great point from Ciaran Thompson in the 22nd minute.
Donegal almost had a goal chance before the break when a long ball from Hugh McFadden just eluded McBrearty as he was in behind the defence.
Paul McGeown from a free had the final point of the half to leave Donegal leading by 0-7 to 0-4 at the break.
Donegal had another great goal chance five minutes into the second half with Marty O’Reilly through, but he fumbled and Eoin McHugh and Willie Gillespie had only half chances as a result.
When Armagh got back within two point midway through the second half, Donegal had a fight but two points from Marty O’Reilly and some wonderful scores from McBrearty kept Donegal on their way to the final, where they will renew rivalry with Cavan, who defeated Monaghan in the other semi-final.
Scorers - Donegal: Patrick McBrearty 0-8,4f; Ryan McHugh 0-3,2f; Marty O’Reilly 0-2; Ciaran Thompson, Darach O’Connor 0-1 each.
Armagh: Ciaran O’Hanlon 0-3; Paul McGeown (2f), Miceal McKenna, Callum Cumiskey (1f) 0-2 each; Joe McElroy 0-1
Donegal: Joe Coll; Ciaran Brennan, Conor Parke, Andrew McCloskey; Martin O’Reilly, Ryan McHugh, Gavin Gallagher; Hugh McFadden, Ciaran Thompson; Dara Mulgrew, Patrick McBrearty, Eunan Doherty; John O’Malley, William Gillespie, Eoin McHugh. Subs., Darach O’Connor for O’Malley 50; Brendan McNelis for Thompson 57; Barry Griffin for Gillespie 60
Armagh: David O’Hagan; Donal O’Neill, Seamus Kelly, Ciaran McCooey; Diarmuid O’Hagan, Michael Murphy, Joe McElroy; Aaron Findon, Blaine Malone; Paul McGeown, Miceal McKenna, Callum Cumiskey; Eddie English, Ciaran O’Hanlon, Jemar Hall. Subs., Colm Hoey for Murphy 38; Cathal McKenna for Hall 40; Paudie Crilly for D O’Hagan 50; Fionnan Burns for McCooey 52; Jack Grugan for English 53; Michael Carson for Cumiskey 56.
Referee: Ronan Barry (Down)