Donnelly demands more as Derry look to Down tie
Derry 0-16 Donegal 2-9
Derry manager Mickey Donnelly hailed his side's triumph over Donegal in yesterday's Ulster U20 championship quarter-final tie but immediately called for a much bigger effort as they set their sights on next weekend's semi-final against Down.
"We were totally written off and given no chance going into this match," rapped Donnelly.
"But we have been waiting in the long grass for this game to come along since the draw was made. The fact is that my lads were mad to get at Donegal and thank God they performed on the day."
Derry's spirit, drive and character ultimately proved too much for a Donegal side that conceded far too many needless frees, missed crucial scoring opportunities in the closing minutes and were much too preoccupied with a defensive mind-set on occasions.
Yet they looked to be on course for a semi-final spot when they led by 2-3 to 0-5 with 20 minutes gone, goals from Peadar Mogan and Paddy Dolan having helped to shunt them into the clear.
But with Jude McAtamney punishing Donegal's indiscretion through a superb helping of long-range free-taking, Derry had found their rhythm by half-time when they trailed by 2-5 to 0-8.
It was four unanswered points from Ben McCarron (2) and Oisin McWilliams (2) that thrust Derry into the lead for the first time in the 41st minute and they never looked back.
They may have huffed and puffed at times and made things difficult for themselves but they never lost their shape or indeed nerve.
Lorcan McWilliams might have sealed the issue rather more emphatically had he converted a penalty after the imposing Calum Brown was fouled but his point from the spot-kick nosed Derry ahead again at 0-15 to 2-8.
And it was the impressive McAtamney who embossed thee Oak Leaf side's gutsy performance when he steered over a late free to bring his points total to four.
Donegal battled gamely to the end but lapses in concentration and wrong options were to cost them dearly in the closing stages when, having lost Ben McCarron to a second yellow card, Derry began to look more vulnerable.
But they held out nonetheless and will take on Down in the semi-final next week-end, a match to which their ebullient manager Donnelly is looking forward with relish.
"We know we have to lift our game again but that's a challenge that we are quite happy to face up to.
"This will be whole new ball game in every sense," added Donnelly.
Derry scorers: J McAtamney 0-4 (4f), O McWilliams 0-4, B McCarron 0-4, L McWilliams 0-2, C Brown, D Cassidy 0-1 each.
Donegal scorers: P Dolan 1-2 (1f); P Mogan 1-0; N O'Donnell, J McGee, E McCormack 0-2 each; L Gavigan 0-1.
Referee: Anthony Marron (Monaghan)