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24 Jan 2022

Donegal do enough to see off Antrim to reach Dr McKenna Cup semi-finals

Donegal do enough to see off Antrim to reach Dr McKenna Cup semi-finals

Conor O'Donnell of Donegal in action against Antrim's Dermot McAleese. Photo Thomas Gallagher

Seven Patrick McBrearty points helped Donegal to a narrow win over Antrim in Portglenone and a semi-final place at home to Derry this Tuesday.

Antrim 1-9
Donegal 0-15

The Kilcar forward provided the cutting edge for the side managed by Declan Bonner, who didn't have it their own way against a well-organised Antrim side, who made a good fist of it in the second half.

Afterwards, it was learned Donegal had won the toss to play Derry in Ballybofey in the last four.

With the visitors leading by three points at the interval, Antrim got back on terms just 30 seconds into the second half when substitute Conor Murray, who was just on, took a pop at a point only to see it fall short. Shaun Patton gathered the ball overhead comfortably and turned to his right in an attempt of starting a Donegal move upfield.

However, the umpire waved the green flag and the goal was given, with the decision made the St Eunan’s goalkeeper had carried the ball over the line. That made the score 1-2 for Antrim to Donegal’s 0-5.

Refusing to panic, Donegal posted quick scores then from Charlie McGuinness and Conor O’Donnell. And the second period was essentially a case of Antrim being kept at arm’s length, whilst never too far off.

In the end the likes of Jeaic Mac Ceallbhuí, Michael Langan and Jamie Brennan all came off the bench to score. Michael Murphy made a welcome late appearance. 

Both sides lined up similarly and there was that much recycling you could’ve left the blue bin in the driveway. Antrim opened the scoring after 90 seconds through Tomás McCann having owned the ball since the moment match referee Niall McKenna tossed it in the air.

The home team had plenty of the ball, but as they spurned their few chances, Donegal took theirs. Antrim wouldn’t score again for 27 minutes and in that time Donegal posted five, with Patrick McBrearty hitting two on the loop points and Caolan McGonagle on target in-between.

In the second quarter, Peadar Mogan, who was the man coming from deep and doing a fine job of stitching the lines together, got through the score and Caolan Ward took a well-taken score from the left flank.

At the end of half, Antrim’s James Gribbon ended their score drought so at half-time Donegal were 0-5 to 0-2 in front. All seven scores of that opening period had come from play.

Both sides enjoyed two-point wins over Down with Donegal in their respective season openers with Declan Bonner’s team running in winners on a 1-13 to 2-8 scoreline eight days’ beforehand. Antrim then posted a 1-12 to 1-10 success on Tuesday in Newry so the nuts and bolts of it meant Enda McGinley’s team needed a win against Donegal to advance to the semi-final stage.

McGuinness and Shane O’Donnell made their first starts against Down and with no limit on substitutes, Bonner was permitted to hand out seven more debuts in the second half. Caolan McColgan, Odhran Doherty, Jamie Grant, Rory O’Donnell, Mark Curran, Aaron Doherty and Ryan McFadden all saw action in the second half.

Donegal: Shaun Patton; Caolan Ward (0-1), Brendan McCole, Odhran Doherty; Tony McClenaghan, Eoghan 'Ban' Gallagher, Peadar Mogan (0-1); Caolan McGonagle (0-1), Jason McGee; Shane O'Donnell, Ciaran Thompson, Ethan O'Donnell; Patrick McBrearty (0-7, 2f), Charlie McGuinness (0-1), Conor O'Donnell (0-1). Subs: Paul Brennan for McCole (half-time), Jamie Brennan (0-1) for S O'Donnell (44), Michael Langan (0-1) and Jeaic Mac Ceallbhuí (0-1) for McGee and Gallagher (46) Odhran McFadden-Ferry for E O'Donnell (47), Michael Murphy and Aaron Doherty for C O'Donnell and McGuinness (54)

Antrim: Luke Mulholland; Patrick McCormick, Ricky Johnston, James McAuley; Peter Healy, Eoghan McCabe, Dermot McAleese (0-1); Kevin Small (0-1), Michael McCann; Ruairi McCann, Pat Shivers; Ryan Murray (0-1), Toms McCann (0-2, 1f), Jamie Gribbin (0-1). Subs: James Lavery for Johnston (30), Dominic McEnhill, Conor Murray (1-1) and Seamus McGarry for M. McCann, Shivers and Grubben (Half-time), Odhran Eastwood (0-2, 1f) for T McCann (44), Jamie McCann for McBride (48), Martin Johnston for Small (55), Darren McCormick and Barry McCormick for Healy and R McCann (59), Eoin Hynds for R Murray (68), Ryan Murray for D McCormick (70)

Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan)

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