Derry out as Donegal make Oak Leafers pay for missed chances
Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-final
Derry, 0-16, Donegal 2-16
Derry will face the All Ireland Qualifiers after a Patrick McBrearty inspired Donegal ended their Ulster Championship aspirations despite an encouraging performance form the Oak Leafers.
Damian McErlain's men will look back on 13 wides and one gilt edged opportunity off the post on a frustrating afternoon that hihlighted Derry's short window of preparation as opposed to a team that had played together throughout the National League.
Neither McErlain nor the Derry players were looking for excuses. The best team won but there was encouragement to be had as Derry belied their new Division Four status with a display that should have brought more scores than it did.
Donegal were at their lethal best with Michael Murphy the best player on the pitch and that was even with a McBrearty shooting master-class that brought the Kilcar 0-8 with four from play. And in keeper Shaun Patton, the had a keeper with a huge kick-out that launched more than one crucial score.
For Derry, Emmett Bradley was superb, accounting for 0-8 of his side's tally but a spread of only four scorers, which included two second half substitutes, highlighted the difficulty the home side in converting numerous chances.
The first half bore all the hallmarks of a team further down the line in term of development against a side racing to make up for half a season without key men.
Derry started with Michael Bateson picking up Michael Murphy but the Donegal captain was in superb form and it wasn't long before Chrissy McKaigue was swapped on to the big No. 14.
McErlain sprung a surprise by dropping Mark Lynch back into a sweeper role and while there was some very encouraging pockets of plays from the Oak Leafers, the lack of preparation time was evident at times.
With sweltering temperatures, Derry conceded the Donegal kick-outs, preferring to drop deep and try to flood their own half but there wasn't enough pressure along the 45m lines with Donegal able to fashion an early four point lead thanks to some superb long range shooting.
Leo McLoone got his side off to a flyer with a lovely point inside the first minute before Murphy hit another long range score. Jamie Brennan got in on the act from more than 40 metres and Leo McLoone sold an outrageous dummy before running through to point, it looked ominous for the home side.
Mark Lynch finally got Derry on the scoreboard from a ninth minute free but it was only temporary respite as, from a huge kick out by former Derry CIty keeper Shaun Patton, Michael Murphy's shout to Hugh McFadden saw the ball take out three Derry defenders and sent Murphy clear. The ball found its way to Ryan McHugh and all the time McFadden had continued his run and was perfectly positioned to take McHugh's pass and roll a low finish under Ben McKinless for 1-04 to 0-1.
the Oak Leaf obituaries were already being written but Derry deserve credit for how the responded. Brend Rogers won ball off McBrearty 20 metres from his own goal and a flowing Derry move ended with Lynch tapping over his second score although a quick look to his left might have revealed Conor McAtamney in acres of space in front of goal.
Next it was step forward Emmett Bradley. He swapped scores with McBrearty before four superb scores in succession brought Derry right back into contention. His first was an effort from play before some loose Donegal defending presented the Glen man with four frees, all of which he sent between the posts,
McBrearty pointed int between Enda Lynn was giving Paddy McGrath a torrid afternoon but despite Donegal dominance, Derry had dragged themselves back to 0-7 to 1-07 with three minutes of the half remaining.
However Donegal showed all their experience. A Derry effort floated wide at one end and within two minutes a three points advantage had been transformed to a six point interval lead as McBrearty (2) and McHugh gave the half-time whistle a very different complexion.
The second half was another tale of missed opportunity for the home side. Plenty of chances but without ever looking likely to close the gap against the visitors who managed the game well.
For every Derry score, Donegal were able to tag on one of their one at the other end. The six points lead that Donegal had manufactured after 11 minutes remained in tact both at half time and full-time. Karl McKaigue was switched on to McBrearty in an effort to get Rogers into the game more but he was cruelly taken out by Leo McLoone in a tackle that brought him a yellow card and left Rogers unable to continue which will be a worry.
Five points was as close as Derry got to Donegal. Bradley saw one goal chance strike the post seconds after Donegal substitute Cian Mulligan had rattled the Derry net at the other end. It was that sort of afternoon for the Oak Leafers.
Donegal's 2-12 from play put Derry's tally of 0-7 in an unfavourable light but amid the disappointment of another ulster Championship exit, there was enough encouragement to suggest if McErlain and his management team continue to work with this set of players, then there is every reason for optimism.
Derry: Ben McKinless; Paul McNeill, Brendan Rogers, Karl McKaigue; Kevin Johnston, Christopher McKaigue, Sean Leo McGoldrick; Conor McAtamney, Michael Bateson; Padraig Cassidy, Emmet Bradley (0-8, 5f), Patrick Coney; Enda Lynn, Shane McGuigan, Mark Lynch (0-5, 3f).
(Substitutes) Liam McGoldrick for SL McGoldrick, HT; Jack Doherty for M Bateson , HT; Carlus McWilliams for B Rogers (inj), 51mins; Niall Toner (0-1) for S McGuigan, 54mins; James Kielt (0-2) for C MaAtamney, 60mins; Peter Hagan for P Cassidy, 61mins;
Yellow Cards: C McWilliams, 70mins;
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Caolan Ward, Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh (0-1); Hugh McFadden (1-0), Leo McLoone (0-3); Ciaran Thompson, Michael Lagan, Frank McGlynn, Patrick McBrearty (0-8, 4f), Michael Murphy (0-2, 1 forty-five), Jamie Brennan (0-1).
(Substitutes) Stephen McMenamin for N McGee (inj) 11mins)., Odhran Mac Nelis for M Langan, HT; Cian Mulligan (1-0) for Brennan, 43mins; Ciaran McGinley for C Thompson, 49mins; Daire O Baoill for P McGrath, 60mins; Mark McHugh for F McGlynn, 65mins.
Yellows: H McFadden, 36; P Brennan , 36mins; L McLoone, 48mins;
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).