DONEGAL eased into the Ulster Minor Championship quarter-finals thanks to a facile win over Antrim in Ballybofey.
Donegal 4-22 Antrim 0-8
By Chris McNulty at Sean MacCumhaill Park
In roaring temperatures, Donegal were on fire with Paddy McElwee’s two goals propelling Donegal to victory.
Michael Callaghan and Kevin McCormack also added goals as Luke Barrett’s team won with 26 points to spare.
As the clock ticked into added time at the end of the first half, a sweeping Donegal move ended with Conor McGinty’s ball across goal finding McElwee. The Downings man steadied himself before tucking past Padraig Linton to the bottom corner and helping Donegal to lead 1-10 to 0-6 at the changeover.
Five minutes into the second half, McElwee bagged his second.
After a Linton kick-out was intercepted by Daniel Marley, he fed Luke McGlynn, whose shot was parried by the ‘keeper, only for the inrushing McElwee to stab home.
Callaghan, just 90 seconds after his introduction, netted in the 43rd minute. The Naomh Columba man finished well after an excellent move involving McElwee, McGinty and Oisin Caulfield. Callaghan took his tally to 1-3 while McCormack ended with 1-5, palming in at the far post in added time at the end.
When they were behind by 16, Antrim’s woes depend when Callum Walsh was sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the second half.
McGinty and Tom Shivers traded early points, but when Conor Reid restored Donegal’s lead, the home side led from there until the final blow of Enda Mallon’s finish.
Conor Reid struck twice in a row, the second of them a delightful free off the ground from 35 metes.
Captain McGlynn nailed two scores either side of the water break to put Donegal 0-8 to 0-3 ahead.
Goalkeeper Aaron Cullen kept the Donegal sheet clean with a fine save to prevent Niall Fallon from bringing the Saffrons right back into the contest in the 19th minute.
Fallon’s advances were thwarted again moments later, Donegal corner-back Donal Gallagher’s superbly-timed tackled snuffing out the threat.
It was just as well with Diarmuid Rogan and Jonny Hannon narrowing the margin, but Donegal finished the half strongly to go seven in front at the interval.
Barrett was reappointed in March after a disrupted 2020, which saw just one game in the Buncrana Cup last spring. In December, Barrett’s minors lost narrowly to Tyrone in an Ulster quarter-final.
With Covid’s impact continuing into the early months of this year, Barrett’s plans were akin to rolling a dice at times.
They were in utter control through the second half here, Kevin McCormack’s third of the evening opening a 3-14 to 0-6 deficit by the second-half water break.
It took Antrim until six minutes from the end to land their first score of the second half, Paudie Gowdy tapping over a free.
The white flag went up, but Antirm could have waved it some time earlier.
Donegal, though, march on with Monaghan in wait.
Donegal: Aaron Cullen; Donal Gallagher, Cormac Gallagher, Karl McGee; Sean Martin, Eoghan Kelly, Oisin Caulfield; Sean Ward (0-2, 1f), Conor Reid (0-1) Cathal McGeever, Kevin McCormack (1-5), Conor McGinty (0-1); Daniel Marley (0-1), Paddy McElwee (2-2), Luke McGlynn (0-6, 3f). Subs: Ethan Friel (0-1) for Kelly (half-time), Michael Callaghan (1-3, 1m) for Marley (41), James Doherty for D.Gallgher (47), Gary Kelly for Reid (47), Karl Joseph Molloy for McElwee (50).
Antrim: Padraig Linton; Ciaran Magennis, Cahir Donnelly, Fintan O’Boyle; Tiernan McCormack, Diarmuid Rogan (0-2), Callum Walsh; Paudie Gowdy (0-1f), Sean Murray; Shay O’Neill, Conor Hastings (0-2f), Jonny Hannon (0-1f); Sean Byrne, Niall Fallon, Tom Shivers (0-1). Subs: Eoghan Campbell for Shivers (8), James Gorman for McCormack (half-time), Conal Hanna for Fallon (41), Garric Mac Adhaimh for Rogan (52), Niall Finnegan for Hannon (54).
Referee: Enda Mallon (Armagh).