Dr McKenna Cup: Derry hammer under-strength Donegal

Brian McIver plays down Derry's McKenna Cup win over Donegal

Donegal's young side were handed an opening Dr McKenna Cup hammering by Derry at Owenbeg as Rory Gallagher new boys looked largely out of their depth.

Gallagher named four starting debutants but on this evidence it will be soon to be back to the tried and trusted.

Donegal hit the opening two points but Emmett McGuckin's goal helped Derry move 1-5 to 0-5 ahead by half-time.

Emmett McGuckin enjoying Derry duty despite heavy workload

Derry totally dominated the middle third of the field in the second half as they outscored Donegal 0-11 to 0-3.

Donegal starting debutants were Monaghan native Eamonn Ward, Conor Parke, Eunan Doherty and Ciaran McGinley as Gallagher was forced to make a number of changes with Odhran MacNiallais, Paddy McGrath and Declan Walsh all late withdrawals.

Points from Willie Gallagher and Martin O'Reilly edged Donegal into a two-point lead but with Derry full-forward Emmett McGuckin tormenting debutant full-back Eamonn Ward early on, the Oak Leafers hit an unanswered 1-3 to take control.

Remaining Dr McKenna Cup Section B games
Donegal v QUB, MacCumhaill ParkSunday 11 January, 14:00 GMT
Fermanagh v Derry, Brewster ParkSunday 11 January, 14:00 GMT
Derry v QUB, OwenbegWednesday 14 January, 19:30 GMT
Donegal v Fermanagh, MacCumhaill ParkWednesday 14 January, 19:30 GMT

McGuckin outfielded Ward on a number of occasions early on and one of those instances was finished off by the Derry attacker firing low past Michael Boyle and into the Donegal net.

Granted Donegal did have their chances in the first half with Dermot Molloy guilty of firing a number of disappointing wides.

Points from O'Reilly and his fellow midfielder Gary McFadden did cut Derry's lead to two by the 28th minute but Mark Lynch then tagged on another Derry score before the break.

After competing well in the first half, Donegal were completely dominated at midfield during the remaining 35 minutes.

Derry were able to gather Michael Boyle's second-half kick-outs with complete ease in the second period and starved of possession, the Donegal challenge evaporated.

The match was already effectively out of reach within 10 minutes of the restart as Lynch, Daniel McKinless and McGuckin had added unanswered scores.

And the remainder of the contest was largely a procession of regular Derry points - broken only by the occasional Donegal score.

It could have been even worse for Donegal as keeper Boyle made a great save to tip a goal-bound effort from Conor McAtamney over the bar.

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher said after the game that he is waiting to see whether Rory Kavanagh will commit for the 2015 season

Subs Daniel Heavron and Benny Herron were among those to get in on the scoring act for Derry in the closing stages but manager Brian McIver will not read too much into this 70 minutes of football.

Paddy McGrath and Odhran MacNiallais were ruled out of Sunday's game by flu while Declan Walsh was suffering from a tight hamstring and they are all likely to be in contention for next Sunday's game against Queen's at Ballybofey.

Donegal boss Gallagher is still waiting to see whether Rory Kavanagh will commit for another inter-county season while Anthony Thompson appears likely to be unavailable for the early stages of the Football League as he is currently working in Britain.

In addition, Leo McLoone has yet to return to the squad but Gallagher expects all the other members of last year's squad to be available for duty in 2015.

In Sunday's other Section B game, Sean Quigley's first-half goal helped Fermanagh beat Queen's 1-13 to 0-9 at Brewster Park.

Four Quigley points helped Fermanagh move 0-5 to 0-2 ahead and while two Ryan Murray scores cut the lead to the minimum, a Paul McCusker point was followed by Quigley's goal just before the interval.

Fermanagh extended their lead in the second half as Ryan Jones, Aidan Breen and Ciaran Flaherty were also among their scorers.

Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup

Saturday 3 January - Section A

Monaghan 0-20 2-10 Ulster University Jordanstown

Sunday 4 January - Section A

Down 1-09 2-11 Cavan

Section B

Fermanagh 1-13 0-09 Queen's University

Derry 1-16 0-08 Donegal

Section C

Armagh 1-10 1-12 Tyrone

Antrim 1-07 0-09 St Mary's