The Donegal Youth League defeated Inishowen 2-0 to seal a place in the knock-out stages of the FAI Youth Interleague competition.
Two second half goals from Jamie Brennan of Erne Wanderers swing the balance of power in favour of the team managed by Martin Duffy, although Inishowen were certainly the better side in the first half.
The visitors had almost all the openings and could well have gone ahead on a couple of occasions.
Aidan Friel saw an effort cleared off the line by Donegal’s Adam Ryan after Liam Doherty had fizzed a shot just wide. It took all of 32 minutes for the home team to create an opening when Caolan McDaid drew a save from Mark McElhinney.
However, Donegal again skated on thin ice when Sean Todd’s header was blocked on the line by Liam Blaney.
After Sligo-Leitrim were ejected from the competition having been found guilty of fielding illegal players, it meant either Donegal or Inishowen would take second place in the group behind the Mayo League.
Inishowen went down 4-2 against the Mayo League, but Donegal’s 6-2 loss in Castlebar meant they hadn’t the luxury of playing for a draw against their neighbours in Rathmullan on Saturday.
That meant that, despite being outplayed to being with, the parity on the scoreboard at the interval meant that Donegal were only a kick of the ball away from progressing.
Their objective was clear and the introduction of Glenn McNulty and Ryan Greene at the break breathed new fire into their challenge.
McNulty set Brennan away on 56 minutes with a smart ball into the channel and Brennan smashed past McElhinney.
Then, four minutes later, Keelan Dillon was adjudged to have fouled McDaid from a Philip Patton corner. Brennan tucked the penalty home, shooting just underneath the crossbar to McElhinney’s right.
Inishowen continued to press and went close when substitute Aidan Donaghy hit the post.
Charlie Donerty, who came off the bench, saw Christopher O’Donnell save his effort on goal and although Inishowen pressed to get back into the match, it was Patton, who shot over, that went closest to a third for Donegal.
Donegal: Christopher O’Donnell; Adam Ryan, Liam Blaney, James Kee, Hugh Moy; Philip Patton, Caolan McDaid (Oisin Hassett 62), James Boyle, Connor Matterson (Glenn McNulty 46); Jamie Brennan, Sam Murphy (Ryan Greene 46).
Inishowen: Mark McElhinney; Aaron McCarron, Ryan Doherty, Sam Toad, Keelan Dillon (Charlie Doherty 62); Declan McGonigle, Liam Doherty, Conor Doherty, Ryan Doherty; Aidan Friel, Michael Coyle (Aidan Donaghy 62).
Referee: Joe McHugh.