Ulster Football Semi-Final: Donegal 3-16 0-12 Antrim

Darach O'Connor bursts past Antrim's Kevin O'Boyle at Clones
Schoolboy Darach O'Connor starred for Donegal after completing his Leaving Certificate last week

Donegal cut loose in the second half to hammer Antrim in Sunday's first Ulster Football semi-final at Clones.

If anything, the Saffrons shaded the first half as the sides went in 0-7 to 0-7 but Donegal outscored Antrim 2-4 to 0-1 in the 13 minutes after half-time.

Leo McLoone hit Donegal's first goal on 42 minutes with the excellent Darach O'Connor notching the second.

With Odhran MacNiallais also among the Donegal stars, sub Dermot Molloy hit the third goal late on.

Donegal's second-half display was in marked contrast to their somewhat lethargic first-half efforts.

Ulster SFC: Jim McGuinness pleased by Donegal's win over Antrim

With Niall McKeever and Michael McCann edging the midfield exchanges in the first period, Antrim must have gone in at the break believing that a surprise could be on the cards.

But the Saffrons were totally blown away in the 15-minute period after the break as Donegal took a complete stranglehold in the middle third of the field and got their running game going.

Both teams were forced to make late changes to their line-ups with the Johnston brothers Ricky and Martin ruled out for Antrim following the death of their father and Rory Kavanagh and Karl Lacey unable to start for Donegal because of injury.

Buncrana schoolboy O'Connor and MacNiallais were drafted into the Donegal team and both went on to impress while Sean McVeigh and Patrick McBride replaced the Johnston brothers.

Donegal started reasonably well as scores from the two late replacements helped them take a 0-5 to 0-2 lead after 15 minutes.

However, Antrim then began to turn over the ball to good effect and superb long-range efforts from Paul McCann, Mark Sweeney and Kevin Niblock helped the Saffrons draw level at 0-6 to 0-6 by the 25th minute.

At that stage, McKeever and Michael McCann were beginning to win the midfield battle with Donegal already minus Neil Gallagher, who had been replaced by Martin McElhinney because of a hamstring niggle.

The sides remained level at the break as Donegal were guilty of dropping a couple of scoring chances short and also missing other chances.

Ulster SFC: Liam Bradley 'shell-shocked' by Antrim collapse

But that was as good as it got for the Saffrons.

Just as the case in Donegal's quarter-final victory over Derry, Jim McGuinness's side took stepped up their level of performance after the restart to end Antrim hopes.

With Donegal starting to control the middle third of the field exchanges, they moved into a 0-10 to 0-8 lead before McLoone, just as he had done against Derry, scored a crucial goal.

In this instance, Toye was the provider as the Antrim defence was completely unlocked after the busy O'Connor had set up the attack by winning breaking ball in centrefield.

McLoone's 42nd-minute goal was followed by a second three-pointer within six minutes as 18-year-old O'Connor, who finished his Leaving Certificate last week, ran with pace from the 45-metre line before planting a superb low shot past Patrick Flood.

With the Saffrons deflated, Donegal controlled the remaining 22 minutes of the contest without needing to move through all their gears.

McLoone could have scored a further goal as his 61st-minute effort skimmed over the bar after another of his surging runs while Colm McFadden twice went close to notching additional three-pointers before substitute Molloy did rattle the net again in the first minute of injury-time.

Donegal: P Durcan; E McGee, N McGee, P McGrath; F McGlynn, O MacNiallais [0-4], A Thompson; N Gallagher, D O'Connor [1-2]; C Toye [0-2], L McLoone [1-2], R McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy [0-3] [capt], C McFadden [0-2]. Subs: M McElhinney for Gallagher, David Walsh for McBrearty, D Molloy [1-01] for O'Connor, L Keaney for Toye, Declan Walsh for N McGee, M O'Reilly for McLoone.

Antrim: P Flood; K O Boyle, S McVeigh, N Delargy; P McBride, J Crozier, J Laverty; M McCann N McKeever; C Murray [0-1], M Sweeney [0-2], P McCann [0-1]; B Neeson [0-3], K Niblock [0-1], T McCann [0-3]. Subs: R Murray for P McCann, T Scullion for McBride, P Cunningham [0-01] for Neeson


Munster SFC semi-final

Clare 1-13 1-17 Kerry

Leinster SHC semi-final

Kilkenny 3-22 5-16 Galway