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Oak Leafs stun favourites Donegal

Derry 0-11 Donegal 0-10

By Steven Doherty

Derry tore up the form book to book a place in the Ulster Championship Final for the first time since 2008 when they defeated strong favourites Donegal by a single point at Clones.

The Oak Leaf county pulled an early surprise when star forwards Tiarnan Flanagan and Barry Grant were brought into the starting 15, both having made early returns from respective ankle injuries that had kept them out of the win over Down.

However the real surprise was how Derry completed dominated the high ball to lay a solid platform for their 0-5 to 0-3 lead at the break.

Favourites Donegal made an ominous start and points from Ethan O'Donnell and Conor Doherty gave Declan Bonner's men an early lead. Derry responded in kind, and scored five of the next six points with Conor Glass converting two '45s' and a big free. Further long range pointing from Kearney and Shane McGuigan saw the Oak Leafers run in two points up at half-time in a low scoring first half.

It was a powerful restart from Damian McErlain's team after the interval, with man of the match Conor Glass banging over two frees and Barry Grant extending Derry's lead to 0-8 to 0-3. Rory Carr and Shane McGuigan exchanged points before Donegal finally started to find some form. Frees from O'Donnell, Doherty and Carr brought the Tir Chonaill to within two points. Derry retained that advantage as the game entered injury time.

However, the referee controversially awarded a Donegal penalty when Derry sub Niall McAtamney appeared to have blocked a shot with is hands. But with time up, Conor Doherty fired his spot kick over the bar and Derry were back in the Ulster final after eight years.

Scorers: Derry: Conor Glass 0-7 (0-3f, 0-2 '45s), Shane McGuigan 0-3 (0-1f), Patrick Kearney 0-1

Donegal: Conor Doherty 0-4 (0-3f), Rory Carr 0-3 (0-2f), Ethan O'Donnell 0-3f.

Belfast Telegraph

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