Donegal 0-14, Derry 2-7
Derry manager, Fergal McCusker, was far from happy as Donegal edged this thrilling Ulster quarter-final with a late pointed free from Stephen McBrearty.
McCusker vented his frustration at the final whistle as referee, Niall McKenna, added almost eight minutes. He had some justification as this game should have gone to extra-time.
In an open first half, Donegal were much sharper up front and led at half-time by 0-9 to 0-3, recording just one wide.
Derry, on the other hand, did not avail of their chances, recording five wides.
Donegal midfielder Caolan McGonigle and Jamie Brennan hit three points each, McGonigle three magnificent scores, two long range frees and the one from play also from long range.
Before half-time both sides had goal chances with Danny Tallon hitting the Donegal crossbar while Jamie Brennan hit a post when trying to lob the Derry ‘keeper Ciaron McCloy after a poor kick-out.
Derry got back in the game in the second thanks to a goal from full-forward Niall Loughlin on 43 minutes.
A quick follow-up point from a Loughlin free left just two between the sides before a run by Niall Toner saw the ball bobble in front of the Donegal goal. No Donegal player took control and Oak Leaf substitute Ruairi McElwee nipped in to toe poke to the net for a one point lead for Derry.
Donegal almost responded with a goal of their own as Jack O’Brien saw himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper but McCloy saved superbly. The ball ran free and Cian Mulligan, with an open goal, somehow lofted the ball over the bar for the equaliser.
Ciaran Thompson won a free for McBrearty to edge Donegal ahead in the second minute of added time, but Derry hit back with Toner levelling in dramatic circumstances.
That probably should have been the cue for extra-time but with almost five minutes of added time played, Stephen McMenamin broke through to find McBrearty on his shoulder. McBrearty was fouled and the free was moved on for dissent leaving a simple tap over for the Kilcar man - which proved to be the winner.
Derry had lost Meehaul McGrath to a second yellow card with normal time almost up and then after McBrearty’s point there was a melee with a number of players involved which led to Stephen McMenamin also getting a second yellow for Donegal.
There was still time for Ryan Lee of Derry to see a black card before the referee finally brought a halt to the game with almost 38 minutes on the clock.
In the end Donegal knew they had got out of jail and manager, Declan Bonner, admitted as much.
They were going reasonably well until about the 40th minute, but a raft of substitutions seemed to unsettle them and Derry took control and the Oak Leaf boys will feel that they should have got extra-time at least.
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Jack O’Brien, Kieran Gillespie, Conor Morrison; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Conor O’Donnell, Eamonn McGrath; Caolan McGonigle (0-3,2f), Stephen McMenamin; Christian Bonner (0-1), Conor Doherty (0-1), Michael Carroll; Stephen McBrearty (0-4,4f), Jamie Brennan (0-3), Andrew McClean (0-1). Subs., Danny Monagle for McGrath 38; Cian Mulligan (0-1) for Bonner 39; Ciaran Thompson for Doherty 45; Niall Friel for McClean 50; Aodhan McGinley for O’Donnell 55; Jack Scally for J O’Brien 65
Derry: Ciaran McCloy; Niall Keenan, Conor McDevitt, Oisin Hegarty; Michael McEvoy, Eamon McGill, Jason Rocks; Jarlath Bradley, Meehaul McGrath; Danny Tallon (0-2), Terence O’Brien (0-1), Jamie Donaghy (0-1); Niall Toner (0-2), Niall Loughlin (1-1), Peter Hagan. Subs., Ruairi McElwee (1-0) for McDevitt; Conor Convery for Donaghy, both 40; Ryan Lee for McEvoy 43; Eoin Devine for Bradley 60
Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan)