Derry’s minor footballers just failed in their bid to hold on to their Ulster crown following Sunday’s Provincial final defeat to Donegal, two points the deficit in a 2-10 to 1-11 defeat.
Derry did get off to a great start going four points up in the opening quarter, Patrick Coney, Oisin McWilliams and a Caolan Devlin double giving the Oak Leaf lads the perfect start. Donegal eventually got onto the scoreboard with a Niall O’Donnell point in the 17th minute and just four minutes later, JD Boyle hit the opening goal, they never really looked back after that and led for the rest of the game to the final whistle. Donegal scored 1-4 in a row after that early Derry burst, two points from play from Eoghan McGettigan following Boyle’s goal. Derry’s Caolan Devlin, who top-scored with 1-7, certainly gave everything for his county’s cause and will feel very unlucky to finish on the losing side, he stopped Donegal’s flow of scores with a free just before the break as Donegal led by two, 1-4 to 0-5, at half time.
Donegal continued to dominate early in the second half and Derry had goalkeeper Ben McKinless to thank as he made a great save with his feet from Enda McCormick but Donegal were growing in ascendancy and points from O’Donnell and Jason McGee stretched their lead.
Derry responded well and points from Caolan Devlin, a free and a Seamus Higginspoint from play closed the gap to a single point again 1-6 to 0-8 just before the mid-point of the second half.
However Donegal then struck a crucial second goal which eventually proved to be the difference between the sides. It cam in the 44th minute and it was just a bit fortuitous as Nathan Boyle’s shot came off the back of a Derry defender before nestling in the net.
Still Derry kept battling as points from Caolan Devlin and substitute Seamus Higgins kept them in touch, but Donegal were able to tack on points when needed as Kieran Gallagher and the brilliant O’Donnell edged them just out of reach and on to Ulster minor glory.
Derry will now enter the All-Ireland series where they meet Munster champions Kerry in the querter-finals.
Derry team: B McKinless; C McCluskey, G McLaughlin, A Bradley; P McGrogan, E Concannon, S McErlain; P Coney, O McWilliams; C Doherty, C Devlin, P Quigg; S Downey, F Higgins, E Bradley.
Substitutes: S Higgins for E Bradley (39), JP Devlin for McWilliams (40), R Young for F Higgins (43), L Kielt for McLaughlin (53), O McKeever for Concannon (BC, 58).
Scorers: C Devlin (1-7), P Coney, O McWilliams, F Higgins, S Higgins (0-1 each).