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McBrearty inspires Donegal to victory

By Declan Bogue

Armagh 0-10 Donegal 0-15: Donegal powered through to the Ulster U21 final with a tactically astute 0-15 to 0-10 win over Armagh at Kingspan Breffni Park.

They will meet Cavan in next Wednesday's final – the Breffni side going for four consecutive Ulster titles at this level – in a repeat of last year's pairing.

This game had been switched from Omagh early in the evening after torrential rain made Healy Park unplayable.

The sod on Breffni Park wasn't all that firm and it left the impression that referee Ronan Barry was allowing for the slippy conditions, awarding frees for minimal contact and giving Donegal forward Dara Mulgrew the benefit of the doubt when he appeared to commit a deliberate pull-down on Armagh's Ciaron O'Hanlon as the first half drew to a close.

The small Donegal crowd in attendance were treated to the full range of Patrick McBrearty's talents, playing at full-forward and torturing marker Seamus Kelly.

He hit four first half points, and his two from play were shots hit while on the swivel, an incredible tool for a forward and virtually impossible to defend against as Donegal ended the opening half 0-7 to 0-4 up.

Overall, Donegal's drive unnerved their opponents, the industry of the rampaging Ryan McHugh in particular a tool they were willing to use while they outnumbered Armagh in hunting down break ball at kickouts.

The Orchard County began to get their teeth into Donegal more as the second half dawned, an inspirational point from captain Miceal McKenna followed by a free from Callum Cumiskey to take the gap back to two points.

They were aided by McBrearty's radar failing him with three early wides in the half.

A stout defence also helped with at times only one player outside their own '45' when they defended.

But three brilliant McBrearty points, two of them from play, ended the match as a contest.

Armagh's hopes completely withered with the dismissal of county senior player Aaron Findon on his second yellow card.

DONEGAL: J Coll; C Brennan, C Parke, A McCloskey; M O'Reilly 0-2, R McHugh 0-3, 2f, G Gallagher; H McFadden, C Thompson 0-1; D Mulgrew, P McBrearty (Capt) 0-8, 4f, E Doherty; J O'Malley, W Gillespie, E McHugh. Subs: D O'Connor 0-1, for O'Malley (50m), B McNelis for Thompson (58m), B Griffin for Gillespie (60m). Yellow cards: Brennan (22m), Parke (38m)

Armagh: D O'Hagan; D O'Neill, S Kelly, C McCooey; D O'Hagan, M Murphy, J McElroy 0-1; A Findon, B Malone; P McGeown 0-2, M McKenna (Capt) 0-2, C Cumiskey 0-2, 1f; E English, C O'Hanlon 0-3, J Hall. Subs: C Hoey for Murphy (38m), C McKenna for Hall (41m), P Crilly for O'Hagan, F Burns for McCooey (50m), J Grugan for English (53m), M Carson for Cumiskey (57m). Yellow cards: McGeown (22m), Hall (29m), Findon (43m, 59m). Red card: Findon (59m)

Referee: Ronan Barry (Down)

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