Thanks to a great second quarter which yielded 1-5, Donegal retained their Ulster Minor League title in convincing style in Healy Park, Omagh.
The final scoreline flattered Derry as they hit 1-4 in the final 12 minutes when the game was well and truly decided. Granted the Oak Leaf side were not helped when they lost Conor Glass to a nose injury early in the second half.
But overall, Donegal were the better side and they put themselves in a great position thanks to a blistering second quarter, which ended with Niall O’Donnell clinically finishing the first goal on 29 minutes.
It was the first time Donegal retained the Ulster Minor League title since 1984-1985 and they also did it in 1962-1963.
Donegal and Derry had met Derry in the group stages in MacCumhaill Park, winning by 4-18 to 3-7. It was always going to be a closer game this time around, especially with Conor Doherty - the star on that day - missing for Donegal on Saturday. The Kilcar sharpshooter is recovering from injury and should be ready when the Ulster Championship against Tyrone comes around in three weeks’ time.
Derry were much better prepared for Saturday’s game and after nine minutes, despite playing against the breeze, they led 0-3 to 0-2 with points From Conor Glass, Eunan Murray and a Barry Grant free.
Dara O’Baoill had opened the Donegal account in the first minute and Michael Carroll had them ahead 0-2 to 0-1 from a free.
But two points inside a minute from Niall O’Donnell put Donegal on their way. He got the first after good work by Ethan O’Donnell and the second was a piece of individual brilliance as he turned his man and broke through.
Ethan O’Donnell added to the lead after a Brendan McCole won free was moved on and Michael Carroll added another free on 18 minutes.
Ethan O’Donnell showed delightful poise to cut through for a point a minute later before Barry Grant had Derry’s last offering of the first half.
Donegal finished the half very well with a blistering last five minutes. They were almost in for a goal on 26 minutes when quick thinking by Ethan O’Donnell saw him take a free to find Rory Carr, but his control took him wide of the goal but the ball was worked back for Michael Langan to hit a quality score with the outside of his right.
Ethan O’Donnell then sold his man a dummy to fire over another before a great passage of play led to Donegal’s opening goal. First Stephen McMenamin turned over the ball in defence and when Derry won the ball around midfield, Dara O’Baoill dispossessed a Derry player and Michael Carroll sent Niall O’Donnell through and he made no mistake to find the net.
In added time O’Donnell won a free for his namesake, Ethan O’Donnell to point and send Donegal to the dressing room 1-10 to 0-4 ahead.
Michael Carroll had added to the lead from a free within 35 seconds of the resumption before Derry lost Conor Glass to injury. Jack Doherty had a point for the Oak Leaf side after a free came back off an upright and Brian Cassidy pointed a free to give them some hope.
But Donegal responded with Michael Carroll converting another free and Ethan O’Donnell, involved in most of Donegal’s good work, sent Rory Carr through for a point.
Barry Grant had a Derry free on 45 minutes but Donegal responded two minutes later with a well worked goal. Michael Carroll was at the start of the move at midfield and then on the end as firstly Ethan O’Donnell and Michael Langan combined before Carroll had the easy task of rolling the ball home for a 2-13 to 0-7 lead.
Donegal made a number of changes and just as happened in the meeting in Ballybofey, Derry took advantage to hit 1-4 in the final 12 minutes. Barry Grant had three frees while Shay McGuigan had the other point.
The most disappointing aspect for Donegal will be a goal conceded in the final minutes when they allowed a long ball from Patrick Kearney go all the way to the net.
In added time, it was fitting that it was man of the match, Ethan O’Donnell, to complete the scoring, pointing a free.
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Philip McNern, Stephen McMenamin, Shane Ferry; Dara O’Baoill (0-1), Brendan McCole, Philip Doherty; Nathan Gavigan, Michael Carroll (1-4,4f); Michael Langan (0-1), Niall O’Donnell (1-2), Ethan O’Donnell (0-5,3f); Mark Coyle, Kane Barrett, Rory Carr (0-1). Subs., Barry Curran for P Doherty 40; Sean McHugh for Coyle 48; Eoghan McGettigan for N O’Donnell, Gary McFadden for McNern, both 54; Sean McMonagle for McCole, Cormac Cannon for Barrett, both 58.
Derry: Callum Mullan-Young; Eoghan Concannon, Michael McEvoy, Conor Maunsell; Conor McGrogan, Niall Keenan, Oisin Duffin; Niall McAtamney, Patrick Kearney (1-0); Tiernan Flanagan, Shay McGuigan (0-1), Conor Glass (0-1); Jack Doherty (0-1), Barry Grant (0-6,5f), Eunan Murray (0-1). Subs., Brian Cassidy(0-1,f) for McAtamney ht; Francis Kearney for Murray 46; Shay Downey for Doherty 51; Patrick Tierney for McGuigan 58.
Referee: Ciaran Mooney