Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi Final:
Donegal 3-16 Antrim 0-12
Donegal progressed to a fourth Ulster final in a row under Jim McGuinness after a comfortable victory over Antrim in Clones on Sunday afternoon.
Two goals in five minutes at the start of the second half laid the platform for Donegal’s win, Leo McLoone finding the net after 42 minutes quickly followed by Darach O’Connor’s stunning strike.
The sides were level four times in a lacklustre first half and there was still nothing to separate them at the break, with the score 0-7 apiece. But Donegal hit an unanswered 2-3 in an eight minute spell between the 39th and 47th minute to completely take the game away from the Saffrons.
Dermot Molloy added a third goal in the 70th minute, by which stage the game was long over as a contest.
Donegal led 0-5 to 0-2 after nine minutes with Christy Toye, O’Connor, MacNiallais, Colm McFadden and Michael Murphy their scorers. Antrim were not overawed and wing-back Mark Sweeney scored two long-range points and with Brian Neeson accurate from frees, they held their own in the opening period.
Donegal started without injured duo Rory Kavanagh and Karl Lacey and lost Neil Gallagher after just 16 minutes. However the players who replaced Kavanagh and Lacey in the starting line-up, Odhran MacNiallais and Darach O’Connor, scored 1-6 between them from play.
MacNiallais hit three of his four points in the third quarter, as Donegal upped the ante and crushed Antrim’s spirit. McLoone scored an important goal for the second Ulster championship match in a row, following his match-winner against Derry.
He took a pass from Christy Toye with his back to goal and wriggled free until the space opened up in front of him and hit it low underneath the Antrim goalkeeper’s body to put Donegal 1-10 to 0-8 ahead.
O’Connor’s goal five minutes later came after a clever run and one-two with Frank McGlynn, cutting back in on his right foot to drill the ball beyond Patrick Flood.
Antrim could not make any impact into the deficit and Molloy’s late goal added further gloss to the scoreline for Donegal, who face either Monaghan or Armagh in the Ulster final on July 20.
Scorers for Donegal: L McLoone 1-2, D O’Connor 1-2, D Molloy 1-1, O MacNiallais 0-4, M Murphy 0-3 (1f, 1 ’45’), C Toye 0-2, C McFadden 0-2 (1f),
Scorers for Antrim: B Neeson 0-3 (3f), T McCann 0-3 (2f), M Sweeney 0-2, C Murray, P McCann, K Niblock 0-1 each, P Cunningham 0-1 (f)
DONEGAL: P Durcan; E McGee, N McGee, P McGrath; R McHugh, F McGlynn, A Thompson; N Gallagher, O MacNiallais; D O’Connor, L McLoone, C Toye; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden. Subs: M McElhinney for Gallagher (16), David Walsh for McBrearty (50), D Molloy for O’Connor (56), L Keaney for Toye (60), Declan Walsh for N McGee (66), M O’Reilly for McLoone (70).
ANTRIM: P Flood; J Crozier, S MvVeigh, N Delargy; J Laverty, K O’Boyle, M Sweeney; M McCann, N McKeever; C Murray, P McBride, P McCann; B Neeson, K Niblock, T McCann. Subs: R Murray for P McCann (47), T Scullion for McBride (50), B Neeson for Cunningham (54).
REFEREE: Barry Cassidy (Derry)
Report: Orla Bannon