Donegal's young guns fire out clear warning by romping to Ulster title
Derry 0-13 Donegal 3-17
Donegal are Eirgrid Ulster Under-21 champions for the first time since Jim McGuinness was manager and Michael Murphy was captain in 2010, after beating Derry 3-17 to 0-13 in the decider last night.
And, just like then, they now go on to play Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final in Breffni Park/Athletic Grounds on Saturday.
Manager Declan Bonner, the flame-haired corner forward of the 1992 All-Ireland-winning side, has had this group of players since they were 16-years-old. They could well be the best representatives to come out of Ulster in recent memory.
With around 12 of their number having already been a part of Rory Gallagher's senior panel, they have frightening potential.
Shane McGuigan was a decent target man for Derry and he found willing runners alongside him in the attacking sextet.
When Donegal opened up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes, you feared for Fergal McCusker's side but gradually they edged their way in, aided by a brace of Danny Tallon frees and a poor kickout from Donegal goalkeeper Danny Rodgers, Peter Hagan's shot cresting the crossbar before Rodgers had even picked up his kicking tee.
The major score of the first half would have ramifications. From a kickout, Oak Leaf midfielder Patrick Kearney had a couple of scythes at Jamie Brennan to horse him off the ball. The Bundoran man persisted and rode a couple of challenges before dribbling the ball soccer-style 50 yards upfield.
He then squared to the unmarked Lorcan Connor, who hammered to the net.
The Oak Leafers' cause was critically harmed when referee Sean Hurson gave McGuigan a black card for an infraction missed by everyone in the press box, but not the linesman on the far side.
Playing a high-energy game while a man down is the hardest thing to do with fitness levels being what they are. As Derry got more desperate, they also got more and more tired, which cost them their composure.
The next goal floored Derry entirely. Substitute Ethan O'Donnell was found in oceans of space. He travelled 40 yards before jinking into a better angle and drilling to the bottom corner.
If Derry thought the pain was over, they were mistaken. The final goal arrived in injury-time, a typically flowing movement ending when man of the match Brennan set up Michael Carroll to palm home past McKinless.
Derry: B McKinless; N Keenan 0-1, O Duffin, C McGrogan; C Mulholland 0-1, M McEvoy, J Curran 0-1; J Doherty 0-1, P Kearney; P Hagan 0-2, 1f, D Curran, P Coney 0-1; D Tallon 0-3f, S McGuigan 0-2, 1f, C Doherty 0-1
Subs: J Donaghy for Doherty, E Magill for D Curran (45), C Feely for McEvoy (53), F Kearney for Coney (58)
Donegal: D Rodgers; C Morrison 0-1, S McMenamin, B McCole; C Kelly, D Ó Baoill, E Bán Gallagher 0-1; T McClenaghan, J McGee 0-2; C Mulligan 0-1, S McBrearty, M Carroll 1-2; L Connor 1-5, 4f, M Langan 0-3, 2x'45', 1f, J Brennan 0-1
Subs: C Doherty for Kelly (24), N O'Donnell 0-1, for McBrearty (41), E O'Donnell 1-0 for Doherty (53), C McLaughlin for Connor (57), C McGonigle for Langan (58), D Monagle for Mulligan (60)