Danny Cullen . . . . outstanding for Donegal
It was another case of so near and yet so far for Donegal as they came agonisingly close to claiming a big championship scalp, on this occasion when going down to Derry in Owenbeg.
Derry ………. 0-20
Donegal led this game from the tenth minute to one minute from the end of normal time before Derry pulled away in the closing minutes.
This was a real battling performance from Donegal in what was a second round tie in the Christy Ring Cup.
Donegal led by eight points at half-time at the end of a battling opening half in which they were the better side and were no way flattered by their half-time margin.
Derry hit the opening two points with Richie Mullin knocking over the first inside the first minute and Paul Cleary split the posts from the right wing shortly after to get the locals off to a lively start.
But with Donegal scrapping for every piece of possession the signs from early were that the visitors were up for a fight.
Donegal started without their ace marksmen Declan Coulter and Lee Henderson.
Coulter has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury picked up in training in recent weeks. And Henderson was forced out of last weekend's game against Wicklow through injury.
Dylan Duffy got a goal on ten minutes when the young Buncrana man got a flick onto a Sean McVeigh long range strike kick started the Donegal challenge.
And with Danny Cullen taking over the free taking duties, the Setanta man nailed on seven points with Ronan McDemott, Ciaran Mathewson and John Boyle raising white flags to send Donegal in 1-12 to 0-7 in front at the break.
Liam Og Hinphey, Cormac O'Doherty (2) and Brian Og McGilligan hit the Derry points.
The locals upped their game on the resumption and reeled off five quick points to reduce the gap to three.
Jack O’’Loughlin posted Donegal’s first point of the second half on 44 minutes to restore a four point advantage. And while Joe Boyle landed Donegal’s only other point of the half shortly after Derry were still four behind until Cormac O’Doherty landed the first of their six closing points ten minutes from time.
Gerard Bradley levelled the game on 69 minutes before in the closing five minutes of injury time, Og McGilligan, Gerard Bradley, Sé McGuigan and O’Doherty struck in injury time to clinch the win.
DONEGAL: Paul Burns; Conor Parke, Christopher MccDermott, Stephen Gillespie; Jack O'Loughlin (0-1), Sean McVeigh, Colm Flood; Joe Boyle (0-3), Danny Cullen (0-7,6f); Ronan McDermott (0-2), Ciaran Matthewson (0-1), Ciaran Finn; Gavin Browne, Niall Cleary, Dylan Duffy(1-0). Subs: Ryan Hilferty for G Browne 46; P J McCarron for N Cleary 72inj.
DERRY: Sean Kelly; Paddy Kelly, Sean Cassidy,Ruairi McCartney; Liam Og Hinphey (0-1), Meehaul McGrath, Thomas Brady; Mark McGuigan, Brian Og McGilligan (0- 3); Paul Cleary (0-2), Richie Mullan (0-2), Gerard Bradley(0-2) Tiaran McCloskey, Sé McGuigan (0-1), Cormac O'Doherty (0-7,4f). Subs: John McMullan (0-1)for T McCloskey for Odhran McKeever (0-1) for T McCloskey, both half-time;Darragh McCloskey for R McCartney 45;Dara Cartin for P Kelly, 57.
REFEREE: Liam Gordan (Gallway)