Ulster SFC semi-final: Derry 0-10 1-9 Donegal

Donegal's Marty O'Reilly fires in the only goal of the semi-final
Donegal's Marty O'Reilly fires in the only goal of the semi-final

Donegal survived a spirited challenge from Derry on Saturday night to reach a fifth Ulster final in a row.

Rory Gallagher's side did the damage in a 10-minute spell after half-time, outscoring Derry by 1-3 to 0-1.

The sides were level at 0-5 apiece at the break but Marty O'Reilly's 45th minute goal was the crucial score.

Donegal now face Monaghan in the Ulster final on 19 July, the third straight year the two counties will contest the provincial decider.

Derry picked up two black cards late on and finished the closing minutes with 14 men having already used all six subs, but they can take heart from their spirited display.

It looked ominous for Derry early on when Donegal eased into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 11 minutes.

Enda Lynn had a goal chance for the Oak Leafers in the first minute, which Paul Durcan kicked clear, but the favourites were quickly into their stride with Odhran MacNiallais, Paddy McBrearty and Christy Toye all scoring from play.

Derry boss McIver rues missed chances in defeat

McBrearty also tagged on a free and he looked the most dangerous of Donegal's forwards, with Michael Murphy again sitting deep in a free role with Neil Gallagher taking spells at full-forward.

Donegal kicked seven first-half wides and with each miss, Derry grew in confidence and they hit three points in a row to draw level at 0-4 each after 22 minutes.

Eoin Bradley's tap-over free was followed by a superb score from Caolan O'Boyle and Mark Lynch popped up with the equaliser in a suffocating game with precious few clear cut openings.

Colm McFadden, back in the Donegal team after missing the win over Armagh with a virus, slotted over from a tight angle to put Donegal in front again.

However, Chrissy McKaigue came forward for the first time in the game and scored from distance to again bring Derry level at 0-5 apiece.

Thomas Mallon ensured the scores stayed that way at half-time after pulling off a smart save from Michael Murphy.

Donegal turned the screw after the restart - an outrageous long-range point from Michael Murphy was the highlight with Martin McElhinney and McFadden also raising white flags before Martin O'Reilly pounced for his second goal in as many games.

Neil Gallagher's strong run punched a big hole through the middle and he laid it off to O'Reilly, whose low shot across goal fizzed into the far corner to put Derry 1-8 to 0-6 ahead after 45 minutes.

That could have been curtains for the underdogs but they battled on with a Lynch free and Caolan O'Boyle's point.

Neil McGee puts the block in on forward Eoin Bradley in the Clones semi-final
Neil McGee puts the block in on Oak Leaf forward Eoin Bradley in the Clones semi-final

Sub Benny Heron reduced the gap to two points with Derry still fighting and playing like they believed they could cause an upset.

However, Murphy picked up the loose ball and broke their hearts with a 35m score with six minutes to go.

Ciaran McFaul curled one over from the wing for Derry to again leave two points in it but the last few minutes were marred by bad-tempered flare-ups as the play became messy and broken up.

Brendan Rogers, playing only his second ever game for Derry, was black-carded for a foul on MacNiallais that sparked a melee in the 66th minute.

After things calmed down, Ciaran McFaul's challenge on Ryan McHugh sparked another row and saw the player picked up Derry's second black card in the 69th minute.

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; R McHugh, K Lacey, F McGlynn; N Gallagher, M McElhinney (0-1); C Toye (0-1), O MacNiallais (0-1), M O'Reilly (1-0); P McBrearty (0-2, 1f), M Murphy (0-2), C McFadden (0-2)

Subs: M McHugh for McFadden (57), A Thompson for Toye (61), H McFadden for McElhinney (69), D Walsh for McBrearty (70)

Derry: T Mallon; O Duffy, B Rodgers, D McBride; K Johnston, C McKaigue (0-1), C McFaul (0-1); N Holly (0-1), F Doherty; SL McGoldrick, M Lynch (0-2, 1f), E Lynn; D Heavron, E Bradley (0-2, 2f), C O'Boyle (0-2)

Subs: B Heron (0-1) for McGoldrick (47), L McGoldrick for Duffy (48), T O'Brien for Lynn (51), N Loughlin for Bradley (62), E Lynn for O'Boyle (65), C McAtamney for Rogers (BC, 66)

Referee: Noel Hickey (Clare)

Saturday 27 June

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifying Round 1B

Armagh 2-17 2-07 Wicklow

Louth 1-16 0-11 Leitrim

Wexford 2-16 2-11 Down

Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final

Derry 0-10 1-09 Donegal

Sunday 28 June

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifying Round 1B

Tyrone 1-14 0-8 Limerick

Leinster Senior Football Championship semi-finals

Meath 2-18 3-19 Westmeath

Dublin 5-18 0-14 Kildare

Ulster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final

Derry 1-17 3-16 Down

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