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Thursday 14 December 2017

Last-gasp O'Donnell point earns Donegal final place

Donegal advanced to their first national final at the U18 grade as they overcame Dublin by 1-12 to 1-11 in their Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final in Croke Park yesterday afternoon.

The winning score arrived in the 58th minute through substitute Ethan O'Donnell after Dublin's defence had dealt unconvincingly with a Caolán McGonigle placed ball.

Dublin opened the scoring in the 2nd minute as Jack Burke fired over from 20 metres. Despite Donegal restoring parity three minutes later through a close-in free by Lorcán Connor. Dublin regained their lead thanks to a sixth minute score from Aaron Byrne.

The quality of the Donegal tackling resulted in numerous Dublin turnovers but the Ulster champions struck four wides from promising positions inside the opening 12 minutes.

Dublin eventually extended their lead thanks to an impressive individual score from Conor Kavanagh.

Con O'Callaghan opened his personal account in the 20th minute and added another but Dublin handed their opponents a lifeline in the 24th minute as some sloppy defending allowed John Campbell to fist home Tony McClenaghan's delivery. Donegal added a brace of Campbell points and an excellent effort by Connor.

Chris Sallier offered Dublin brief respite when pointing three minutes before the break but Donegal added late points from Cian Mulligan and Stephen McBrearty for a 1-6 to 0-6 interval advantage.

Dublin were buoyed immediately upon the restart as Eoghan McHugh raced from midfield to clip a fine score and an O'Callaghan free in the 35th minute left Dublin one point adrift.

McBrearty added two glorious points to keep Donegal in front but Dublin bounced back as the impressive Colm Basquel took a quick free that eventually fell to Burke, who rounded Danny Rodgers before firing home in the 46th minute.

A Basquel point increased Dublin's lead but Donegal restored parity through Connor and McBrearty prior to O'Donnell's dramatic late intervention.

Scorers - Donegal: J Campbell 1-2, S McBrearty 0-4, L Connor 0-3 (2f), C Mulligan 0-2, E O'Donnell 0-1. Dublin: J Burke 1-1, C O'Callaghan 0-4 (2f), C Sallier 0-2, A Byrne, C Kavanagh, C Basquel, E McHugh 0-1 each.

Donegal: D Rodgers; D Monagle, C Gillespie, C Kelly; S McMenamin, T McClenaghan, C Mulligan; N Harley, C McGonigle; J Campbell, S McBrearty, M Carroll; J Brennan, L Connor, N Friel. Subs: E O'Donnell for McGonigle (20-24, Blood Sub), C Morrison for Friel (35, Black Card), E O'Donnell for Harley (39), G McBride for Brennan (47 C Doherty for Campbell (54), C Bonner for Kelly (58).

Dublin: E Whelan; E Murchan, J Mullins, D Monahan; A McGowan, S Clayton, G O'Reilly; A Foley, E McHugh; C Kavanagh, C Basquel, J Burke; A Byrne, C O'Callaghan, C Sallier. Subs: B Howard for Kavanagh (49), D McIlgorm for Foley (55), W Egan for Byrne (56), A Fee for McGowan (59).

REFEREE: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary)

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