Donegal got the defence of their Ulster Minor League title back on track with an impressive 15 point win over Derry in Celtic Park on Tuesday night.
Donegal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-12
Derry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0-6
Jack Flannery, Jason McGee and Odhran Ferry scored the goals for Shaun Paul Barrett’s young charges who had won one and lost one of their opening two games. They defeated Fermanagh in their opening and lost to Tyrone last time out and needed a win against the Derry men if they are to qualify for a place in the league semi-final.
They now share second place in the league table with Antrim, with two wins each. Tyrone top the group on six points and have already booked one of the last four places.
Donegal are away to Antrim this Saturday in a game that will decide who takes the second semi-final spot.
Donegal led on Tuesday night by three points, 1-4 to 0-4, at the end of an entertaining opening half hour; Jack Flannery’s third minute goal the difference between two sides who were a little wayward in their finishing over the course of the opening half hour.
Of the two, Derry, were the most wayward. They had the St Pat’s Maghera, Hogan Cup finalists boys back including Fergal Higgins, Paddy Quigg and Shea Downey - son of Derry 1993 All-Ireland winning captain Henry Downey. They led the half-time wide count seven to six.
Flannery hit the net after a layoff from his club colleague Eoghan McGettigan, who did well to get out ahead of his marker to take a good ball in from Aidan McLaughlin.
McLaughlin and Odhran Ferry were very prominent early on pressing forward at every opportunity. Enda McCormack stretched the Donegal lead out to four when he split the posts three minutes later.
Jason McGee and Kieran Gallagher were providing the visitors with the early platform in the middle of the field and McCormack and Niall O’Donnell were carving the openings from the half-line of the attack.
Ryan Cassidy opened the Derry account on eight minutes and Niall O’Donnell and Larry Kielt traded wides before Conor Doherty knocked over Derry’s second into the city end goals to reduce the margin back to two.
But Donegal were three in front again when Odhran Ferry polished off a good move. But with Cassidy and Kielt coming more into the game, the margin was back to one with a little over five minutes remaining in the half.
Cassidy from a close in free and Kielt with a monster point from close on 50 metres out on the stand hit the Derry scores.
But a second point off the boot of the bustling Enda McCormack and another fine effort from the towering Jason McGee sent Donegal in 1-4 to 0-4 in front at half-time.
Peadar Mogan, sweeping in front of his full-back line, was the other standout Donegal player in the opening half.
Playing with the breeze in their backs in the second half and kicking into the city end goals - recognised in Celtic Park as the scoring goals, Donegal kicked on in the second half.
And with points from Niall O’Donnell, Peadar Mogan (free) - their only score from a placed ball over the 60 minutes - Jack Flannery and Kieran Gallagher to one from Ryan Cassidy, Donegal had stretched their lead out to six points by the 39 minute mark.
It was game set and match three minutes later when man of the match Jason McGee got on the end of a good move to smash past Oran Harton for goal number two.
Leading 2-8 to 0-5 and with Derry manager running his bench the final quarter was only academic.
Eoghan McGettigan and Enda McCormack added to Donegal tally either side of a Paddy Quigg point before Odhran Ferry was picked out by McGee from way out the field inside the Derry last line of defence.
And the Gaoth Dobhair man made no mistake for goal number three from ten metres and a 3-11 to 0-6 lead with a little over five minutes remaining.
Eoghan McGettigan, who had a good game as the target man at full-forward, brought down the curtain on the scoring with a fine point on the stroke of full-time.
Donegal: Gavin Mulreany; Mark Curran, Aaron McCrea, Odhran Shiels; Aidan McLaughlin, JD Boyle, Odhran Ferry (1-1); Jason McGee (1-1), Kieran Gallagher (0-1); Ciaran McGinley, Niall O’Donnell (0-1), Enda McCormack (0-4); Jack Flannery (1-1), Eoghan McGettigan (0-2), Peadar Mogan (0-1,f). Subs: Brian O’Donnell for O Shiels (53); Tony Harkin for N O’Donnell, Stephen Carr for K Gallagher (55), Ryan Connors for C McGinley, Michael Mulhern for A McLaughlin (57).
Derry: Oran Harton; Conor McCloskey, Gerard McLaughlin, Padraig McNicholl; Simon McErlaine, Shea Downey,Peadar McLaughlin; Conor Quinn, Conor Doherty (0-1); Larry Kielt (0-1), Ryan Cassidy (0-3), 1f), Paudie Grogan; Conor Kelly, Fergal Higgins, Peadar Quigg (0-1). Subs: Eoin Bradley for C Kelly (h/t); Aaron Bradley for S McErlaine, Mark Grogan for P McLaughlin (43); Martin McGonagle for L Kielt (45); Caolan Devlin for R Cassidy, Seamus Higgins for C Quinn (48).
Referee: Karol Doherty (Antrim).