Ulster SFC: Derry 0-16 Donegal 2-16

By Cian Murtagh at Celtic ParkBBC Sport NI
Donegal's Ciaran Thompson puts in a strong challenge on Derry forward Emmet Bradley
Donegal's Ciaran Thompson puts in a strong challenge on Derry forward Emmet Bradley

Donegal secured an Ulster semi-final showdown with Down on 10 June in Clones after cruising to a six-point win over Derry at Celtic Park on Sunday.

Goals by Hugh McFadden and Cian Mulligan, as well as eight points by Paddy McBrearty, gave Declan Bonner's men another comfortable victory.

Emmet Bradley and Mark Lynch got a combined 13 points for the hosts but no other Derry starter managed a score.

Derry will now go into Monday's qualifier draw.

After an eight-week break since the end of their disappointing league campaign, Derry began the championship with an ultra-defensive approach that was unable to stifle the Donegal attack.

Donegal still have room for improvement - Bonner

Laser-guided Donegal

Derry began conservatively with a double-sweeper system as manager Damian McErlain eschewed the attacking style he had used during the league.

But Donegal were able to counteract that approach thanks to the brilliance of goalkeeper Shaun Patton's laser-like kickouts.

The visitors charged into a four-point lead in the opening eight minutes with a series of long-range points from Michael Murphy and Jamie Brennan - bookended by two superb scores by Leo McLoone.

It took Derry 11 minutes to trouble the scorers when Mark Lynch converted the first of his four frees.

Donegal full-back Neil McGee hobbled off to boost the hopes of the home fans but the visitors were soon celebrating the first goal of the game.

A monster kickout by Patton by-passed the entire Derry midfield and was picked up by Murphy in full flow.

The full-forward fisted inside to McFadden who burst through the heart of the Derry defence to roll the ball under Ben McKinless and into the net.

Lynn leads the way

From six points behind, Derry gradually began to work their way back into the game, led by the brilliant Enda Lynn.

The Oak Leafers captain was creating problems for his marker Paddy McGrath, winning a series of frees for Emmet Bradley, who reeled off three points without reply to draw his side back to within one score.

But Donegal led by six at the break once again as McKinless produced a superb save to deny Ryan McHugh a goal before McBrearty added two points to give the visitors a 1-10 to 0-7 lead at half time.

Donegal defender Eoghan Ban Gallagher gets a tug from Derry's Sean Leo McGoldrick at Celtic Park
Donegal defender Eoghan Ban Gallagher gets a tug from Derry's Sean Leo McGoldrick at Celtic Park

Magic McBrearty

Lynch and Bradley continued to carry the attack to Donegal during a score-for-score start to the second half.

The decision to switch Chrissy McKaigue to mark Murphy meant the Donegal captain was being kept relatively quiet - but that allowed McBrearty the time and space to take control.

An eight-minute spell without a point in the lead-up to the 50th minute ended with a flurry of activity as Derry's Shane McGuigan fired his second wide in quick succession and McBrearty responded with a majestic score from way out on the right.

The Kilcar star then added another point from play as Derry lost full-back Brendan Rogers to injury and their game plan began to unravel.

Derry missed chances 'frustrating' - McErlain

Second goal ends the contest

Donegal's second goal in the dying minutes also came from a Patton kickout.

The former Sligo Rovers goalkeeper found Daire O Baoill in space and he cut in off the right before the ball was worked to fellow substitute Cian Mulligan, and he rifled a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Derry attempted an immediate response but Bradley's shot crashed off the angle of the upright and with it the Oak Leafers' hopes were also dashed.

Derry: B McKinless; P McNeill, B Rogers, K McKaigue; K Johnston, C McKaigue, SL McGoldrick; C McAtamney, M Bateson; P Cassidy, E Bradley (0-8), P Coney; E Lynn, S McGuigan, M Lynch (0-5).

Subs: O Hartin, J Doherty for M Bateson 35, P Hagan for P Cassidy 62, J Kielt (0-2) for C McAtamney 62, R Mooney, C McCluskey, M McEvoy, L McGoldrick for SL McGoldrick 35, P McGrogan, C McWilliams for B Rogers 51, N Toner (0-1) for S McGuigan 55.

Donegal: S Patton; P McGrath, N McGee, E Gallagher; C Ward, P Brennan, R McHugh (0-2), H McFadden (1-0), L McLoone (0-3); C Thompson, M Langan, F McGlynn; P McBrearty (0-8), M Murphy (0-2), J Brennan (0-1).

Subs: MA McGinley, S McMenamin for N McGee 11, E Doherty, M McHugh for F McGlynn 66, D O Baoill for P McGrath 62, C MGonagle, O Mac Niallais for M Langan 35, C McGinley for C Thompson 50, C Morrison, C Mulligan (1-0) for P Brennan 44, D O'Connor.