Donegal 1-10 0-7 Antrim

Donegal earned their expected win over Antrim in a drab Ulster Football opener at a wet Ballybofey.

The first score from play didn't come until the 21st minute as Ryan Bradley edged Donegal 0-2 to 0-1 ahead.

Paddy Cunningham levelled for Antrim but Donegal then moved into a 0-6 to 0-3 interval advantage.

Donegal improved to move into a 0-10 to 0-4 lead and a brief Antrim revival was ended by Mark Dougan's sending off before Mark McHugh's injury-time goal.

The build-up to the match had been dominated by Liam Bradley's accusation of puke football levelled at Donegal but both teams were guilty of the offence in the opening 35 minutes.

Mistakes were the order of the day in a defences-dominated opening period and the opening score from play didn't come until the 22nd minute when Bradley blasted over a point from distance.

In front of a small attendance at MacCumhaill Park, Colm McFadden nudged Donegal ahead from a free before Kevin Niblock levelled for the Saffrons from an excellent placed ball.

Donegal's Martin McElhinney was perhaps fortunate to only pick up a yellow card early on for a heavy hit on Kevin O'Boyle.

After Bradley finally ended 15 minutes of dire action by firing over a score, Cunningham quickly replied for the Saffrons from a free.

Good defensive work by Karl Lacey and Frank McGlynn culminated with Adrian Hanlon firing over a fine score after a sweeping move and Murphy doubled Donegal's lead from a soft free won by McElhinney.

Brendan Herron and Karl Lacey
Brendan Herron tackles Karl Lacey at MacCumhaill Park

Another Bradley snapshot increased Donegal's lead to three before Cunningham slotted Antrim's first score from play after a Conor Murray charge.

Murray was showing excellent running ability although he had fired a dreadful wide earlier in the half.

Donegal moved three ahead again as Molloy blasted over from play and the lead should have been greater as Adrian Hanlon was handed a goal chance in injury-time after a superb Murphy ball before Kevin O'Boyle snuffed out the chance.

The pace did lift somewhat after the break as Donegal shook off their first-half lethargy despite the deterioration in the conditions.

Thomas McCann did cut Donegal's lead to two but it was quickly three again as McFadden was credited with a point that looked as though it had gone wide.

But Donegal were showing more intensity as McHugh's point from play was added to by a a Murphy free as the home side moved five clear.

Antrim were presented with a chance to get back into the game but Niblock's goal attempt was superbly blocked by man of the match Neil McGee.

A Bradley run set up a simple free for Murphy and with Donegal six ahead, Jim McGuinness' substitutions included the introduction of Patrick McBrearty who had played in the earlier minor match.

Donegal appeared convinced that the job was done as they eased off but two quickfire points by Dougan and Thomas McCann suddenly left only four between the teams with five minutes remaining.

Dougan then won a free which - if pointed - would have left a kick of the ball between the teams but the substitute swung a retaliatory elbow at Karl Lacey and received a straight red card, with the free reversed for good measure.

Donegal's goal came in injury-time as McHugh ran from deep before blasting past Sean O'Neill to put a more accurate look on the final scoreboard.

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