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Derry far too good for new Donegal

Derry 1-16 Donegal 0-08

By Chris McNulty

Rory Gallagher's first game in charge of Donegal ended in an 11-point defeat by Derry, but you didn't get the feeling the Fermanagh native will have too many sleepless nights over this one.

It was very much a fledgling Donegal side that took to the sod at Owenbeg, with just two of their participants - captain for the day Martin McElhinney and Dermot Molloy - having played in the All-Ireland final in September.

By the end, seven players had made their debuts for Donegal and the scoreline won't be dwelt upon too much by either manager.

"It'll be tough for them to take today on the chin, but we explained to them in the lead-up to it that it's an individual thing and about how they can handle it," Gallagher said.

"We'll hope to develop two or three of them.

"The way we approached it was that we'd keep our more experienced players off and give them a pre-season as such to improve.

"That's the choice we made because it'll be better for the boys in the long run."

Emmet McGuckin's 16th minute goal was the score that turned the tide.

Willie Gillespie and Martin O'Reilly posted early scores for Donegal, but Derry's first score was McGuckin's goal. The Magherafelt men stole in behind 33-year debutant full-back Eamon Ward to fetch a pass from skipper Mark Lynch and slot beyond goalkeeper Michael Boyle into the far corner.

Enda Lynn, Brian Óg McAlarey and McGuckin scored quick-fire points and Derry were four up.

A pair of Lynch frees helped Derry lead by three, 1-5 to 0-5, at the interval.

Donegal kicked 10 first-half wides and Derry really took control in part two with Lynch and Conor McAtamney dominating at midfield.

The score of the game arrived when Daniel Heavron boomed over from just shy of the '45 at a stage when Derry's experience was shining.

For Oak Leaf boss Brian McIver, the delight was in how they contained Donegal's attack.

"We conceded only two points from play over the course of the 70 minutes and we're very pleased with that.

"It's no secret that's something we're trying to improve on this year.

"On the other side, I'm sure we'll be under a lot more pressure if they throw on Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden the next day."

Gallagher will have most of the 2014 class back by the time these sides meet in the opening League game at the end of the month, although Rory Kavanagh continues to mull over retirement, Leo McLoone is 'taking a break' and Anthony Thompson is currently based in England.

Gallagher said: "The hope is to be as strong as we can be for the Derry game in the League. The aim is to get the 2014 squad up to speed by then and I fully expect to have the majority by that game."

DERRY: E McNicholl; O Duffy, N Holly, J O'Kane; K Johnston, D Brown, B Óg McAlary (0-1); M Lynch (0-4, 3f), C McAtamney (0-2); C McFaul, J Kearney (0-1, 1f), E Lynn (0-1); D McKinless (0-1), E McGuckin (1-2), B McGoldrick. Subs: L McGoldrick (0-1) for McAlary (h-t), D Heavron (0-1) for B McGoldrick (44), B Heron (0-1, 1 '45) for Lynn (54), M Craig (0-1) for McAtamney (54), S Brady for McGuckin (61), J Bradley for Kearney (65).

DONEGAL: M Boyle; E Doherty, E Ward, C Parke; C Gallagher, M McHugh, C McGinley; M McElhinney, G McFadden (0-2, 2f); E Doherty, E McHugh, D Molloy (0-2, 1 '45); W Gillespie (0-1), H McFadden, M O'Reilly (0-3, 3f). Subs: J Gibbons for Gallagher (39), R Malley for M.McHugh (47), M McDermott for Molloy (57).

Referee: C Branagan (Down).

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