Derry 0-8 1-11 Donegal: The long wait has ended for Donegal.
Their 19-year separation from the Anglo Celt Cup ended in dramatic fashion at St Tiernach's Park, Clones yesterday when they proved far too slick and streetwise for a Derry side that fell well below expectations.
Faster, more organised and technically superior, Jim McGuinness's well-drilled team displayed a level of hunger and commitment that proved too much for their beleaguered opponents in front of 28,364 fans.
Long before the end it was palpably clear that Donegal's smooth cohesion and almost telepathic understanding would bring their own rewards in a fraught, occasionally tempestuous encounter that was nonetheless highlighted by bouts of supreme skill, particularly from the eventual winners.
Donegal may have been viewed as entering the decider burdened by a defensive millstone yet it was their creative flair and exquisite finishing that ultimately ended their provincial title drought.
They restricted Derry to just three points in the second-half, remedied their own shortcomings in midfield which had earlier threatened to undermine their game plan and then brought John Brennan's side to their knees with four points in the last 20 minutes which saw a new chapter in the Ulster Championship scripted in spectacular style.
Michael Murphy proved an inspirational skipper, Colm McFadden's artistry was right out of the top drawer, Karl Lacey and Neil McGee were superb at the back and Michael Hegarty's link work proved the glue that bound defence and attack together.
Donegal made maximum use of the pitch throughout, exercised patience in retaining possession when probing for openings and responded with interest to virtually every Derry thrust - and there were not too many of those in the second-half in particular.
Yet for all their undoubted panache, Donegal's victory was carved out against a backdrop of some controversy, Derry manager Brennan with some justification subsequently claiming his side had been denied not one but two penalties.
In contrast, referee Maurice Deegan had no hesitation in awarding a penalty to Donegal in the 39th minute when Derry keeper Danny Devlin was harshly adjudged to have impeded Murphy.
The latter's thunderbolt from the resultant spot kick proved the catalyst for Donegal's second-half dominance and by extension their passport straight into the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Derry had cause for disenchantment when sub Emmet McGuckin appeared to have been fouled in front of the Donegal posts after taking delivery of a high ball in the 64th minute only for referee Deegan to wave play on.
Donegal's swashbuckling start yielded three points in the first 15 minutes with McFadden (free), Anthony Thompson and Murphy all on target.
And when Ryan Bradley and Thompson swept the side into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead in the 21st minute Donegal looked capable of streaking well clear.
But with Derry skipper Barry McGoldrick imposing himself in his role as an extra defender and Charlie Kielt joining brother James on the scoreboard - they shared the opening two points - John Brennan's side began to look much more comfortable.
So much so in fact that when Joe Diver and Michael Friel exerted a spell of dominance at midfield with some clean catches and intelligent support play, the ball was suddenly sprayed to the flanks where Conleith Gilligan and Mark Lynch were lurking with intent.
It was Charlie Kielt who underpinned the Derry revival when he swept over a superb 28th minute point that was followed almost immediately by a further score from a Gilligan free.
Sub Martin Donaghy, who had come on for the yellow-carded Michael Bateson, flung over a fine effort prior to the break which hauled Derry back on level terms at 0-5 each.
But the pendulum swung markedly in Donegal's favour when Murphy drilled home his penalty just four minutes after the re-start.
McFadden (2), Hegarty and Murphy then pirated the points that helped to usher their team onto the Ulster throne for the first time since 1992.
Derry: D Devlin; SL McGoldrick, K McGuckin, D McBride, C Mullan, C Kielt (0-2), M Bateson, J Diver, M Friel, M Lynch, C O'Boyle, B McGoldrick, E Muldoon, J Kielt (0-4, 0-1 free), C Gilligan (0-1 free). Subs: M Donaghy (0-1) for Bateson (29 mins), K McCloy for Mullan (46), E McGuckin for Gilligan (59), G O'Kane for B McGoldrick (62), PJ McCloskey for Muldoon (62).
Donegal: P Durcan; F McGlynn, N McGee, P McGrath, A Thompson (0-2), K Lacey, K Cassidy, R Kavanagh, N Gallagher, M McHugh, M Hegarty (0-3), R Bradley (0-1), P McBrearty, M Murphy (1-2), C McFadden (0-3, 0-1 free). Subs: M McElhinney for Kavanagh (32), D Molloy for McBrearty (53), D Walsh for Bradley (59).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).