All-Ireland SFC: Derry net three second half goals
All-Ireland SFC Group Four
Derry 3-14 Donegal 1-15
By Chris McNulty at Páirc Seán MacCumhaill
Conor Doherty's thunderous goal was the catalyst as Derry saw off north-west neighbours Donegal.
Ballybofey sizzled in the Bank Holiday sun and Doherty lifted the mercury further with his 46th minute goal.
Conor McCluskey advanced deep into Donegal territory and offloaded for Doherty. The Newbridge man crashed past Shaun Patton, who was helpless as the ball smashed into the top shelf. Such was the ferocity of Doherty's shot, the net-makers might've been on standby.
The excellent Oisin Gallen – who scored nine points in all – hauled Donegal back from the brink with three points in as many minutes.
The white flags were still being waved when captain Patrick McBrearty came on in the 56th minute for a first appearance in four months and an improved Donegal were feeling emboldened.
Yet, in front of 8,253 spectators, the game was put to bed when Lachlan Murray palmed home with his first touch a minute later.
For good measure, Derry added a third as Padraig McGrogan arrowed to the bottom corner after McCluskey picked Donegal pockets.
The last time Derry claimed a Championship win in Ballybofey, Paddy Bradley scored ten points, but here the Glenullen man was beneath a peaked cap as coach with Donegal, who netted a late goal by Rory O'Donnell that was a mere footnote.
Bradley watched as Brendan Rogers popped up at both ends in the space of nine minutes to move Derry into a 0-8 to 0-4 lead late in the first half.
After Derry goalkeeper Odhran Lynch saved well to thwart Jason McGee, the Donegal midfielder's follow-up was kept out by Rogers from beneath his own crossbar.
McGuigan and Niall Toner tacked on points and when Rogers punted over Derry were in a groove with a double-scores advantage.
A pair of frees by Gallen, the Sean MacCumhaills clubman playing on his home turf, helped narrow Donegal's deficit to three points in added time at the end of the first half, only for a free at the other end, converted by Shane McGuigan with the last kick of the half, giving Derry a 0-9 to 0-6 interval lead.
Donegal goalkeeper Patton was causing real difficulty for Derry with his booming kick-outs landing with razor-sharp accuracy.
McGee's goal chance was fashioned from a Patton kick-out and another dart by the Letterkenny man – who got on the scoresheet in the second half with a '45 - yielded a fisted point for Gallen in the 25th minute.
Patton's reflexes proved useful, too. A superb seventh-minute stop with his legs denied Benny Heron, who weaved into position, and Patton saved well from Paul Cassidy when the sides were level at 0-2 apiece in the 14th minute.
Cassidy and Heron, with a beauty from the left-hand side, had Derry two-up, but Conor O'Donnell and Gallen brought the home side level again.
A fortnight after landing a morale-boosting win in Clare – their first victory since inching past Kerry in the opening League game in late January – the mood in Donegal had been given a much-needed lift.
The presence of the available-again McBrearty, albeit among the substitutes, also came as a huge boost for the hosts, but there was no doubt that Donegal were cursing five wides in a first-half that saw the teams level three times.
Eight minutes into the second half, after Patton and O'Donnell brought Donegal to within two, Cassidy lofted over after a move that had 'keeper Lynch at its heart.
While Donegal had plenty to take heart from, not least Gallen's magnificent contribution, the goals from Doherty, Murray and McGrogan ensured it was Derry's day.
Scorers for Derry: Paul Cassidy 0-4, Conor Doherty, Lachlann Murray, Padraig McGrogan 1-0 each, Shane McGuigan 0-3 (2fs), Ciaran McFaul, Brendan Rogers 0-2 each; Benny Heron, Niall Toner (f), Conor Glass 0-1 each.
Scorers for Donegal: Oisin Gallen 0-9 (3fs, 2ms) Rory O'Donnell 1-0, Conor O'Donnell, Ciaran Thompson (1f) 0-2 each, Shaun Patton ('45), Patrick McBrearty (f) 0-1 each.
Derry: Odhran Lynch; Chrissy McKaigue, Eoin McEvoy, Conor McCluskey; Conor Doherty, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan; Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers; Niall Toner, Paul Cassidy, Ethan Doherty; Ciaran McFaul, Shane McGuigan, Benny Heron.
Subs: Niall Loughlin for Toner (46), Padraig Cassidy for Heron (52), Lachlan Murray for McFaul (56), Declan Cassidy for McEvoy (65), Shea Downey for McKaigue (70).
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Mark Curran, Brendan McCole, Caolan McColgan; Caolan Ward, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Odhran Doherty; Caolan McGonagle, Jason McGee; Daire O Baoill, Jamie Brennan, Ciaran Thompson; Hugh McFadden, Oisin Gallen, Conor O'Donnell.
Subs: Luke McGlynn for Brennan (52), Patrick McBrearty for O Baoill (56), Rory O'Donnell for McGee (58), Stephen McMenamin for Doherty (61), Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui for Ward (69).
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).