Donegal’s reign as Ulster minor champions is over as Shaun Paul Barrett’s team bowed out of the 2017 Championship following a narrow extra time loss to Antrim in this afternoon’s curtain-raiser in Ballybofey.
Donegal 2-14 Antrim 0-21 (after extra time)
Goals by Peadar Mogan and Oisin Gallen had Donegal narrowly ahead early in extra time, but Antrim, spurred by a brace from Ruairi Brolly – son of RTÉ pundit Joe – hit back and a late point from Tiarnán McAteer eked out the win for the Saffrons, while Donegal are left to ponder on what might have been.
Picture caption: Donegal’s Oisin Gallen turns for goal during Sunday’s minor game against Antrim. Picture by Evan Logan
A fine comeback by Donegal – seven behind at one stage – looked to be completed when super subs Shay Doherty and Lanty Molloy struck three points in as many minutes.
Doherty’s brace brought Donegal level and when Molloy sped away to fist over, Donegal led, only for Liam Quinn’s free to send the game to an extra period.
In the third minute of extra time, Gallen hammered to the roof of the Antrim net after Antrim ‘keeper Michael Byrne made a strong save from Mogan – who had caught out the Antrim stopper for Donegal’s first goal in normal time.
Gallen’s goal helped Donegal lead 2-14 to 0-18 at half-time in extra-time, but they relinquished and Antrim edged it.
Donegal were seven behind and in real trouble when they got a goal that had more than a stroke of good fortune fastened to it in the 21st minute. What seemed a routine free for Mogan, from 30 metres, all of a sudden gave Donegal a hint of a lifeline.
Antrim goalkeeper Michael Byrne pulled off two fine saves earlier in the game to keep Donegal at bay but he’ll not reflect too fondly on that moment when Mogan stroked the free goal-wards and, appearing to assume that the ball was floating over his crossbar, Byrne watched in horror as it dropped behind him and into the net.
It took Donegal from the brink of self-destruct back into the tie and there were only three between them when Paddy Dolan slammed over after taking receipt of a free from Aaron Doherty.
Gallen drilled over in time added on to cancel out a free from Ronan Kelly, but Antrim led by four at the break as Liam Quinn’s fifth point of the day gave the visitors a 0-12 to 1-5 advantage.
Substitute Thomas McGowan hit the first score of the second half and Gallen arrowed over to make it a two-point game.
A drenching downpour made life difficult for the participants and Donegal were soon, via scores by Mogan and Conor O’Donnell, within a point – but they couldn’t turn the screw far enough.
Tiarnán McAteer stemmed the flow with a clever score, but it was a fight to the finish and Doherty, having staved off the attentions of several Antrim defenders, got a shot away, but didn’t have sufficient power to beat Byrne.
With two in two minutes, though, Shay Doherty had Donegal on level terms for the first time since the opening five minutes and Molloy fisted over after being sent scampering clear by Mogan, but extra time was needed as Quinn’s free, after Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí hauled down Eoghan McCabe, rescued it for Antrim.[adrotate group=”46″]
Mac Ceallabhuí was black carded for his troubles and Antrim’s Dermot McErlaine suffered a similar fate deep into added time with Antrim clinging on – something that hadn’t seem plausible earlier in the afternoon.
Although Donegal took the lead through Aaron Doherty after just 15 seconds, the Saffrons didn’t take long to build up a commanding hold of the strings.
Hugh McGettigan’s team blitzed five points on the spin to move ahead 0-5 to 0-1 by the tenth minute, although they did have a debt of gratitude to go the way of their goalkeeper Byrne.
The O’Donovan Rossa netminder saved from Donegal full-forward Gallen after he was put on the end of a move involving Brian O’Donnell and Conor O’Donnell, the latter of whom might well have elected to take a shot himself.
After McAteer and Antrim captain Eoin Nagle moved the visitors in front, Byrne came to the fore again, this time with a magnificent save to deny Donegal skipper Mogan at close range. Megan’s powerful drive was turned out for a ’45 by the Byrne, whose afternoon would soon turn rather sour with that goal for Mogan.
McErlaine, McAteer, Quinn and wing-back John McCaffrey, with a gorgeous point from distance, stretched the Antrim lead and Donegal were in danger of being left behind.
It had been a spring of more downs than ups for the Donegal minors, although they did end their Ulster Minor League campaign by winning the Shield competition but now their campaign has come to an abrupt end.
Donegal: Cian Randles; Luke Gavigan, Aaron Deeney, Karl McGlynn; Colin McFadden (0-1), Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí, Paul Murphy; Ronan Docherty, Conor O’Donnell (0-2); Paddy Dolan (0-1), Aaron Doherty (0-2), Brian O’Donnell; Peadar Mogan (1-2, 1-1f), Oisin Gallen (1-2), Keelan McGroddy. Subs: Thomas McGowan (0-1) for B.O’Donnell (26), Shay Doherty (0-2) for Dolan (46), Lanty Molloy (0-1) for McGroddy (50), Jack McSharry for C.O’Donnell (60), Michael McGroary for Mac Ceallabhuí (60, black card), Paddy Dolan for Gallen (70).
Antrim: Michael Byrne; Eamon Kelly, John Toner, Aidan Mulholland; Jamie Gribbin, Eoghan McCabe, John McCaffrey (0-1); Ethan Gibson, Joe Maybin; Eoin Nagle (0-2), Dermot McErlaine (0-1f), Tiarnán McAteer (0-4); Liam Quinn (0-7, 4f), Dominic McEnhill, Ronan Kelly (0-3, 1f). Subs: Malachi Doherty (0-1) for McCaffrey (41), Jack Lenehan for Maybin (46), Ruairi Brolly (0-2) for Kelly (52), Kealan McCann for Gibson (57), Peter Henvey for McEnhill (57), James McCann for McErlaine (60, black card), Declan Smith for K.McCann (66, black card), McCaffrey for Gribbin (68), Seanchan Duffin for Kelly (70).
Referee: Steven Campbell (Tyrone).Tags: