Young talent on show as Donegal defeat Antrim

After close opening, Donegal’s Frank McGlynn says ‘scoreboard flattered us at the end’

Donegal 3-19 Antrim 1-9

The biggest cheer in MacCumhaill Park came midway through the second half when Michael Murphy hoisted a Donegal point from play.

Imagine an Ulster Championship match going 59 minutes before a first yellow card, and when you add that there were no yellow cards in the opening game on Saturday night between Monaghan and Fermanagh, the question must be asked, has the Ulster Championship gone soft?

There was little to cheer in this game until a big turning point before the break. Matthew Fitzpatrick, the Antrim player who got a ban quashed to play, had a great goal chance but pulled his effort across the Donegal goal and wide.

From the kick-out, Donegal went upfield and Michael Murphy and Michael Carroll combined to set Jamie Brennan through for the first goal of the game.

Brennan would add a point immediately as Fitzpatrick was stretchered from the ground after picking up a serious ankle injury.

From being a close game, Donegal were 1-8 to 0-6 ahead going into the dressing room and in reality there was no way back for Antrim.

The second half proved to be a walk in the park for Donegal with Michael Murphy controlling affairs around midfield, tacking on four points.

First championship goal

Paddy McGrath came forward from corner-back to walk the ball into the net for his first championship goal. Indeed, McGrath had only ever scored two points in a county jersey before.

Patrick McBrearty, who was omitted from the starting 15, came on and hit 1-2, the goal a very well finished effort, while 19-year-old Michael Langan also came in to hit 0-2.

In all there were three 19-year-olds – Langan, Michael Carroll and Jason McGee – making their debut for Donegal, while seven of the players used were making their first championship start.

Antrim hit a goal with the last kick of the game from Conor Small to put a better look on the scoreboard.

After the game, veteran Donegal defender Frank McGlynn was happy to get the championship off to a good start. “It is good to get the win and get the championship up and running but I think the scoreboard flattered us a little at the end,” he said.

“Antrim missed a lot of chances in the first half and those chances were taken it could have been a different game,” said McGlynn.

“Overall we’re happy with result. You’re always happy with a with a win in the Ulster Championship and we still have plenty of things to work on for the next day,” he said.

DONEGAL: MA McGinley; P McGrath (1-0), N McGee, C Ward; E Bán Gallagher; R McHugh, F McGlynn(0-1); J McGee, M Murphy (0-6,5f); M Carroll, M O'Reilly, C Thompson (0-4,3f); C Mulligan, H McFadden (0-1), J Brennan (1-1). Subs. E McHugh for Mulligan 45; K Lacey (0-1) for Carroll 50; P McBrearty (1-2,2f) for Brennan 52; M McElhinney for Thompson 56; M McHugh (0-1)for C Ward 60; M Langan (0-2) for McGlynn 64

ANTRIM: C Kerr; C Hamill, P Gallagher, P Healy; P McBride, D Lynch, P McAleer; S McVeigh, S Beatty (0-1); R McCann, M Fitzpatrick, M Sweeney; CJ McGourty (0-6,6f), B Bradley, T McCann (0-2). Subs. K O'Boyle for Fitzpatrick 35; J Dowling for McCann 41; C Small (1-0) for Bradley 52; D Nugent for McVeigh 56; N Delargy for O'Boyle 66

REFEREE: P Neilan (Roscommon)

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