Ulster GAA Football Championship Quarter-Final:
Donegal 2-13 Derry 0-9
Donegal advanced to the semi-finals of the Ulster GAA Football Championship after an impressive 10-point defeat of Derry at Ballybofey on Saturday evening.
Having scored 1-16 in their preliminary round win over Cavan, Donegal matched that total but ominously upped their performance levels to dismantle a Derry side that lacked imagination and struggled to cope with the Ulster champions’ counter-attacking football.
For all the criticism of Donegal’s defensive style, they scored 2-8 from play and had nine different scorers, further proof if it were needed that manager Jim McGuinness has tweaked his system this year and put more of an emphasis on attacking football.
And yet, the home side were still brilliant in defence, restricting Derry to just three points from play, with all but one of captain Paddy Bradley’s six-point haul coming from placed balls.
A goal from Leo McLoone on 31 minutes helped Donegal to a 1-6 to 0-4 lead at the break, and they sealed the win on 44 minutes when Colm McFadden finished a superb counter-attack move.
McFadden opened the scoring with a free for Donegal in the sixth minute, before Mark Lynch responded for the visitors with a superb effort from play.
However, that was to be Derry’s only score in the opening quarter, as Donegal took control in midfield and John Brennan’s side struggled to find an increasingly isolated Paddy Bradley, who was marked closely by Karl Lacey, in their inside forward line.
Despite their dominance, Donegal refused to commit too many players to attack and struggled to find scores in the deplorable conditions. David Walsh did find his range from play, while McFadden added a second from a free and Paddy McBrearty hit a fine point, as the Ulster champions moved into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 19th minute.
Donegal had plenty of chances to add to their lead but their shooting was a little wayward at times, with the greasy ball and heavy underfoot conditions doing little to help them turn their surfeit of possession into scores.
Paddy Bradley, playing in his 50th championship game, struggled to make any impact from play, but two scores from frees meant Derry were still well in the game at the half hour mark. However, they were dealt a hammer blow when McFadden sliced through their defence and created an opening for McLoone, who mopped up the loose ball and lashed a shot past Barry Gillis, the Derry goalkeeper.
Paddy Bradley landed a third free to reduce the gap, but Donegal had the last say of the half, with Michael Murphy hitting a free in added time to give Donegal a 1-6 to 0-4 lead at the break.
The second half was slow to take off, as Derry’s shortcomings in attack were exposed by a ruthless Donegal defence, which played with a ferocious intensity. Man of the match Frank McGlynn added to the home side’s advantage with a point from play in the 41st minute before McFadden delivered the killer blow two minutes later.
Derry coughed up possession in their own half-forward, and Donegal broke up the field with lightning speed, before the ball was eventually played to McFadden, who finished superbly to the back of the net. Donegal were nine points up and given the Oak Leafers’ problems in attack, it was, effectively, game over.
When Seán Leo McGoldrick pulled a point back for Derry in the 54th minute, it was their first score from play since Lynch opened their account in the eighth minute.
For all the criticism Donegal get for the premium manager McGuinness places on defence, they had little trouble adding to their total in the final quarter, with David Walsh, Neill Gallagher and Ryan Bradley all landing fine scores from play.
Both sides had late goal chances, but McBrearty hit a post for Donegal and Mark Lynch forced a wonderful save from the Donegal goalkeeper, Paul Durcan.
Donegal were utterly dominant and they now march on to a semi-final against Tyrone on June 30 with yet another impressive display under their belts.
Derry Scorers: M Lynch 0-1, P Bradley 0-6 (0-5f), SL McGoldrick 0-1, E Bradley 0-1 (0-1 45).
Donegal Scorers: C McFadden 1-2 (0-2f), D Walsh 0-2, P McBrearty 0-2, A Thompson 0-1, M Murphy 0-3 (0-3f), L McLoone 1-0, F McGlynn 0-1, N Gallagher 0-1, R Bradley 0-1.
Derry: B Gillis; J McCamley, C McKaigue, SL McGoldrick; B McGoldrick, M Craig, E Scullion; J Diver, M Friel; G O’Kane, M Lynch, E Lynn; C Gilligan, P Bradley, E McGuckian. Subs: M Donaghy for McCamley (43), Patsy Bradley for Lynn (45), E Bradley for Gilligan (53), C Kielt for O’Kane (54), E Bradley for Diver (61).
Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson, M Murphy, N Gallagher; R Bradley, M McHugh, D Walsh; P McBrearty, C McFadden, L McLoone. Subs: S Griffin for McFadden (66), D Molloy for McLoone (66).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)
Attendance: 11, 207