Alan Foley reports from Ballybofey
A JAMIE BRENNAN goal three minutes before half-time set Donegal on their way to a comfortable 16-point victory over Antrim in the Ulster SFC quarter-final in Ballybofey.
Antrim had been giving Rory Gallagher’s team as good as they got until that point, with Matthew Fitzpatrick missing a goal chance at the other end moments before Brennan goaled to put Rory Gallagher’s team into a 1-7 to 0-6 lead.
After that, there was a challenge match feel as Donegal won at a canter, with Paddy McGrath adding a second goal on 63 minutes and substitute Patrick McBrearty blasting home a third in injury time.
Brennan shot past Chris Kerr in the Antrim goal having cut inside to round off a move that involved Michael Murphy and Michael Carroll after Ciaran Thompson had originally won possession.
Thompson – the scorer of four points – was the standout player in that first 35 minutes, a half in which Donegal didn’t score from play until the 14th minute.
Antrim, who scored the first two points of the contest through a CJ McGourty free and then Tomas McCann, were level at 0-4 to 0-4. McGourty dragged a decent chance wide of Mark Anthony McGinley’s goal on 20 minutes.
However, with Murphy finding his range Donegal started to chug through the gears with ease. Brennan fired over a fine point late in the half to give Donegal a 1-8 to 0-6 half-time lead.
There was a pedestrian feel to the second half with Donegal in complete control. Murphy rifled over a succession of free-kicks and an excellent long-ranger from play helped bring his end of day takings to 0-5.
McBrearty, who was named to start but only appeared as a second half substitute, came onto kick two frees in the latter stages, with side of McGrath’s goal.
The corner-back shot into an empty goal to confirm Donegal’s victory. Jason McGee, Martin McElhinney and Ryan McHugh all played a part in the move.
McElhinney was also the provider for McBrearty, who cut inside from the right onto his trusted left foot, to smash a third Donegal goal past Kerr in the 72nd minute.
Antrim did get some consolation when Conor Small scored into McGinley’s top corner following McGourty’s diagonal ball with the last kick of the game.
The winners of next Sunday’s clash at Celtic Park between Derry or Tyrone await Donegal in the Ulster semi-final on June 18.
DONEGAL: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath (1-0), Neil McGee, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Martin O’Reilly, Frank McGlynn (0-1), Caolan Ward; Jason McGee, Michael Murphy (0-6, 5f); Michael Carroll, Ciaran Thompson (0-4, 3f), Ryan McHugh; Cian Mulligan, Hugh McFadden (0-1), Jamie Brennan (1-1). Subs: Eoin McHugh for Mulligan (45), Karl Lacey (0-1) for Carroll (50), Patrick McBrearty (1-2, 2f) for Brennan (52), Martin McElhinney for Thompson (57), Mark McHugh (0-1) for Ward (60), Michael Langan (0-2) for McGlynn (64).
ANTRIM: Chris Kerr; Conor Hamill, Patrick Gallagher, Peter Healy; Paddy McBride, Declan Lynch, Paddy McAleer; Sean McVeigh, Stephen Beatty (0-1); Ruairi McCann, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Mark Sweeney; CJ McGourty (0-6, 6f), Brendan Bradley, Tómas McCann (0-2). Subs: Kevin O’Boyle for Fitzpatrick (35), Jack Dowling for McCann (41), Conor Small (1-0) for Bradley (52), Domhnall Nugent for McVeigh (57), Niall Delargey for O’Boyle (67).
Referee: Patrick Neilan (Roscommon)
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