A hat-trick from corner forward Liam McDonald helped holders Monaghan back into the Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship final as the Farney County emerged 5-10 to 2-11 victors over Donegal.
It was far from plain sailing for Mark Counihan’s side as Donegal controlled the game for the majority of the first half but goals at the right time sent the sides in at the break level.
It was Donegal who made the best possible start with Carlos O’Reilly scoring a goal and a point in the opening minutes. Jason Irwin and then Liam McDonald netted for Monaghan before Donegal got back on terms through Johnny McGroody.
A second Donegal goal from O’Reilly gave his side a 2-6 to 2-2 lead after 20 minutes and just before the interval they would lead by three, before McDonald struck for his second goal.
The pivotal moment of the game came in the opening minute of the second half as substitute Tiernan Kierans found the Donegal net to give Monaghan a cushion for the first time. Donegal would score just three more points as the Farney’s ability to find the net was telling.
Carlos O’Reilly and McGroody tried hard for Donegal but when Liam McDonald popped up with his third goal Monaghan were out of sight.
The game in the Athletic Grounds was a more slow burning affair with Tyrone taking the lead early on and never really relinquishing it for the 60 minutes emerging 1-14 to 0-10 winners.
Luke Donnelly and Mark Devlin led the way for the young Red Hands. Sean O’Donnell, James Donaghy and Devlin helped Tyrone into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead early on before Callum Downey and Matthew Downey got Derry up and going.
Luke Donnelly and Derry’s Matthew Downey would do the majority of the scoring in the opening period as Tyrone led 0-9 to 0-6 at the break.
The crucial moment in the game came when Donnelly found the net with a penalty midway through the second half giving Tyrone the gap they craved. Derry tried hard to get back on terms but late scores from Ciaran Daly, Shea Daly and Ethan Neill helped Tyrone to victory.
The sides will now meet in the final on the weekend of July 13/14.