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Derry’s McKenna Cup hopes are dashed by first-half blitz as Donegal reach decider

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Donegal's Charlie McGuinness and Derry's Ciaran McFaul do battle

Donegal's Charlie McGuinness and Derry's Ciaran McFaul do battle

©INPHO/Evan Logan

Derry's Gareth McKinless with Odhran McFadden Ferry of Donegal in the thick of the action

Derry's Gareth McKinless with Odhran McFadden Ferry of Donegal in the thick of the action

©INPHO/Evan Logan

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Donegal's Charlie McGuinness and Derry's Ciaran McFaul do battle

First-half goals from Caolan McGonagle and Odhran McFadden-Ferry booked Donegal’s ticket to Saturday’s Dr McKenna Cup final.

Donegal made it three from three in 2022 after wriggling clear of Derry late in the first half. With a five-point buffer at the short whistle, Donegal were able to bring captain Michael Murphy off the bench for the last 27 minutes.

Just before the first water break, Donegal struck gold. McGonagle rifled home after Derry failed to deal with the loose ball when Eoghan Ban Gallager kept alive a stray shot from Jamie Brennan which was drifting to the left.

That put Donegal 1-2 to 0-4 ahead after Derry had reeled off four on the bounce, Enda Downey (2), Niall Toner and Carlos McWilliams on the mark for the Oak Leafs. 

Four minutes before half-time, Donegal bagged a second goal.

Jamie Brennan, making his first start of 2022, was the provider and corner-back McFadden-Ferry, who ghosted up the stand side, took the pass before arrowing past Conlan Bradley.

Donegal also had Ryan McHugh and Paul Brennan back in their line-up, although numbers on both were hit by the involvement of players in colleges competition, while Derry remain without their Slaughtneil and Steelstown players.

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Michael Langan converted a free and Shane O’Donnell — with his first senior inter-county point — got in on the act to put Donegal five up, 2-5 to 0-6, at half-time.

Patrick McBrearty, who landed seven points in the win over Antrim at Portglenone on Saturday, stretched the lead with a free early in the second half.

Lachlan Murray responded and the Desertmartin man kept Derry’s tally ticking over throughout part two, but Donegal were just too far ahead.

Scorers - Donegal: C McGonagle 1-2, O McFadden-Ferry 1-0, J Mac Ceallabuí, J Brennan, S O’Donnell, T McClenaghan, P McBrearty (f), M Langan (f), M Murphy (f) 0-1 each

Derry: L Murray 0-3 (2f), P Cassidy, E Downey (1f) 0-2 each, O McWilliams, D Cassidy, N Toner, A Tohill (m) 0-1 each

Donegal: S Patton; M Curran, E Gallagher, O McFadden-Ferry; R McHugh, P Brennan, T McClenaghan; C McGonagle, M Langan; C Thompson, S O’Donnell, J Mac Ceallabhuí; P McBrearty, C McGuinness, J Brennan.

Subs: N O’Donnell for J.Brennan (35), M Murphy for McGuinness (43), E Doherty for S.O’Donnell (45), B McCole for Curran (52), O Doherty for McFadden-Ferry (55), A Doherty for N.O’Donnell (62), C McGuinness for Langan (67).

Derry: C Bradley; S Downey, P McGrogan, C McCloskey; O McWilliams, C Doherty, M McEvoy; G McKinless, A Tohill; B Herron, C McFaul, P Cassidy; E Downey, L Murray, N Toner.

Subs: E Bradley for E.Downey (15), J Doherty for McEvoy, S Heavron for McFaul, D Cassidy for Doherty (all h-t), P Cassidy for McCloskey (45).

Referee: S Laverty (Antrim)


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