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Sean McMahon netted a goal for Dublin at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Sean McMahon netted a goal for Dublin at Kingspan Breffni Park.

EirGrid All Ireland U21 SF: Dublin defeat Donegal

EirGrid All Ireland Under 21 Championship Semi-Final


By Paul Keane at Kingspan Breffni Park

* *

A trademark storming second-half performance eased four-in-a-row EirGrid Leinster U-21 football champions Dublin through to the All-Ireland final.

Dessie Farrell's side led by three points at half-time, but true to the pattern of their wins in Leinster, romped to victory with an excellent second-half display.

Aaron Byrne, the EirGrid Leinster Player of the Province, maintained his excellent form with another four points while Sean McMahon's 51st minute goal put Dublin eight points ahead and in the clear.

Brian Howard was named Man of the Match and Dublin's win was particularly impressive as it was done so without Con O'Callaghan, the county's rising star, who was black carded after just four minutes.

Donegal were favourites to win having reached the 2014 All-Ireland minor final and breezed through the Ulster campaign but were well held and added four late points to gloss the scoreline.

The drama began at the throw-in when both sides overhauled their teams from the published line-outs.

Donegal made four personnel changes, drafting in Stephen McMenamin, Jason McGee, Stephen McBrearty, and Mark Coyle and showed positional switches in each line of the pitch.

Dublin, who had made at least three changes in each of their Leinster championship games, showed two alterations to the official lineup this time.

Colm Basquel, an All-Ireland senior medallist last year, came on for his first start of the campaign having been restricted by injury to a substitute appearance against Westmeath.

Darren Gavin also came in for Chris Sallier though Sallier was called upon after just five minutes when O'Callaghan was dismissed.

The Cuala hero and Dublin senior was shown a black card in the fourth minute for a drag down of Conor Morrison.

In truth, it wasn't a classic first-half and Dublin took a 0-5 to 0-2 lead into the interval.

Between them, the teams racked up 13 wides with Donegal more wasteful, shooting seven wides, though battling a stiff wind.

Glenn O'Reilly, who was twice taken off to be treated for blood injuries, scored two first-half points for Dublin.

Byrne, who also hit four points in the Leinster final, was on the mark along with O'Callaghan and Tom Fox.

Basquel is the only Dublin player to have played in this year's Allianz league compared to seven of Donegal's starters and Ethan O'Donnell brought that figure to eight when he came on.

Donegal opened up with some fine football after the restart and clawed back the deficit to the minimum with points from Michael Langan and Niall O'Donnell.

Dublin's response was impressive and decisive in a low scoring contest as they picked off the next four points in a row to put real daylight between them with a 0-9 to 0-4 lead.

McMahon's goal put Dublin in a winning position when to latched onto a pass from Cian Murphy and blasted in after a run up the left channel.

Murphy closed out the Dublin scoring with his second point of the game as Farrell's side won with surprising ease.

Scorers for Dublin: Aaron Byrne 0-4 (0-2f), Sean McMahon 1-0, Glenn O'Reilly 0-2, Cian Murphy 0-2, Chris Sallier 0-1, Darren Byrne 0-1, Tom Fox 0-1, Con O'Callaghan 0-1 (0-1f), A McGowan 0-1.

Scorers for Donegal: Michael Langan 0-4 (0-2f), Niall O'Donnell 0-2, Stephen McBreaty 0-1, Michael Carroll 0-1, Ethan O'Donnell 0-1.

DUBLIN: Evan Comerford; Darren Byrne, Cillian O'Shea, Eoin Murchan; Con O'Callaghan, Sean McMahon, Cian Murphy; Brian Howard, Andrew Foley; Tom Fox, Aaron Byrne, Glenn O'Reilly; Darren Gavin, Colm Basquel, Dan O'Brien.

Subs: Chris Sallier for O'Callaghan (5, black card), Aaron Elliot for Foley (22); Darragh Spillane for Fox (37); Andrew McGowan for O'Reilly (47); Tony O'Sullivan for Sallier (57), Shane Clayton for Basquel (60). O'Sullivan (65), black card.

DONEGAL: Danny Rodgers; Brendan McCole, Stephen McMenamin, Conor Morrison; Daire O Baoill, Cian Mulligan, Eoghan 'Ban' Gallagher; Jason McGee, Tony McClenaghan; Stephen McBrearty, Mark Coyle, Michael Carroll; Lorcan Connor, Michael Langan, Jamie Brennan.

Subs: Conor Doherty for Coyle (15), Niall O'Donnell for McBrearty (24), Ethan O'Donnell for Connor (38), Rory Carr for Mulligan (43), Caolan McGonagle for McClenaghan (49), McBrearty for O Baoill (55).

REFEREE: James Bermingham (Cork).

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