Donnelly's young squad show spirit but ultimately come up short in bid for All-Ireland final
Mayo 2-14 Derry 2-11
It was a double dose of disappointment for Derry's footballers over the weekend. After their defeat in the Ulster minor final, their Under 20s succumbed to Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final in Carrick-on-Shannon.
The Westerners prevailed by three points in a fiercely physical battle where the intensity never let up for 70 minutes.
"I'm frustrated for the lads really," said manager Mickey Donnelly. "They probably played within themselves a little bit.
"All-Ireland semi-finals are all about that -you have to perform on the day and maybe we just didn't.
"There's no particular formula for that or there's no magic wand to change it and make it go your way, it's just one of those things. All credit to Mayo."
Ryan O'Donoghue cut through the Derry defence in the first attack of the game to score the game's opening goal and give Mayo, backed by a typical big and noisy support, the dream start.
Derry didn't panic, however, and points from Ben McCarron and a Conor Doherty '45 closed the gap to a single point in the 4th minute.
Ross Egan scored the first of his four first half frees soon after before Derry returned fire emphatically through a Callum Brown goal.
"It was a bad start, but then within a couple of minutes we have the goal back and we're 4-3 and you think we're going well again and that we'd settled well, but regardless of that Mayo never went away," added Donnelly.
" I thought physically they had pace and power for 60 minutes out there - they just didn't stop for the whole game."
Derry added to their lead and indeed their goal tally when Oisin McWilliams found the net after tremendous build up work from first Ben McCarron and then captain Conor Doherty.
Unfortunately for the Oakleafers Mayo took full control of the second quarter. Ross nailed two further frees before two long range rockets from Oisin McLaughlin and then Evan O'Brien gave the Connacht men a point half-time lead at 1-7 to 2-3.
A Paul Lambert goal in the 41st minute gave Mayo a 2-9 to 2-6 lead as the two well matched opponents traded points until the end.
"We do have most of them coming back," concluded Donnelly of his still young squad.
"But you don't look at it like that. You have to judge each team on its merits and I suppose we invested a whole lot into winning today. We wish Mayo all the best in the final."
Scorers-Mayo: Ross Egan 0-5 (5fs), Paul Lambert 1-1, Ryan O'Donoghue 1-0, Oisin McLaughlin 0-2, John Gallagher 0-2, Tommy Conroy 0-2, Conor Diston 0-1, Evan O'Brien 0-1
Derry: Lorcan McWilliams 0-5 (3fs), Callum Brown 1-0, Oisin McWilliams 1-0, Ben McCarron 0-2, Conor Doherty 0-1 ('45), Mark McGrogan 0-1, Brian Cassidy 0-1, Declan Cassidy 0-1
Mayo: Paddy O'Malley, Johnny Maughan, Brian O'Malley, John Cunnane, Paul Lambert, Cathal Horan, Oisin McLaughlin, Evan O'Brien, Jordan Flynn, Nathan Moran, Ryan O'Donoghue, Tommy Conroy, Conor Diskin, Ross Egan, Colm Moran. Subs: John Gallagher for T Conroy (47), Sean Og Teigue for C Horan (58)
Derry: Oran Hartin, Sean McKeever, Conor McCluskey, Eoghan Concannon, Declan Cassidy, Padraig McGrogan, Marty Bradley, Conor Doherty, Dara Rafferty, Shea Downey, Oisin McWilliams, Mark McGrogan, Lorcan McWilliams, Callum Brown, Ben McCarron. Subs: Conleth McShane for M Bradley (37), Brian Cassidy for M McGrogan (42)
Referee: Paul Faloon (Down).