It took extra time to decide it in the end but Antrim were fully deserving of their one point victory over Donegal in Sunday’s Ulster Minor Football Championship in Ballybofey. The young Saffrons were dominant during a wind assisted first half and a series of excellent scores saw them race 0-10 to 0-3 clear after twenty minutes. However they conceded a freakish goal a minute later when a free kick by Donegal’s Mogan, which appeared to be going over the bar, held up in the wind and deceived goalkeeper Michael Byrne and dropped into the net. A bad blow to the Rossa player who had earlier made outstanding saves from goal-bound shots from Donegal’s Oisin gallen and Peadar Mogan. However he didn’t let it affect him to his credit and he and the rest of the team kept their heads and pushed on to go in at the break with a 0-12 to 1-5 lead.
With the wind at their backs Donegal clawed their way back during the second half. Antrim were finding the scores harder to come by but they kept their noses in front until the final minutes when Donegal subs Shay Doherty and Lanty Molloy struck three points in as many minutes to close the gap to just one. It looked like it was going to be a familiar story of gallant losers for Antrim when Molloy broke through and fisted over a point to give his team the lead for the first time since the opening minute of the game. However the Antrim lads showed great character and when Eoghan McCabe was pulled down while closing down of goal in injury time Liam Quinn fired over the resultant free to take the game to extra time.
It didn’t look good for the visitors when Donegal fired the ball to the Antrim net three minutes into extra time but as they had done earlier the young Saffrons kept battling away and they clawed their way back with two points from substitute Ruairi Brolly (son of Joe) before Creggan’s Tiarnán McAteer struck a brilliant winner to spark great scenes of celebration
Scorers – Donegal: P Mogan (1-1f), O Gallen 1-2 each, C O’Donnell, A Doherty, S Doherty 0-2 each, P Dolan, T McGowan L Molloy, C McFadden 0-1 each
Antrim: L Quinn 0-7 (4f), T McAteer 0-4, R Kelly (1f) 0-3, E Nagle, R Brolly 0-2 each, J McCaffrey, D McErlaine (f), M Doherty 0-1 each
Donegal – C Randles; L Gavigan, A Deeney, C McGlynn; C McFadden, J Mac Ceallabhuí, P Murphy; R Docherty, C O’Donnell; P Dolan, A Doherty, B O’Donnell; P Mogan, O Gallen, K McGroddy. Subs: T McGowan for B.O’Donnell (26), S Doherty for Dolan (46), L Molloy for McGroddy (50), J McSharry for C.O’Donnell (60), M McGroary for Mac Ceallabhuí (b/c, 60), Dolan for Gallen (70).
Antrim – M Byrne; E Kelly, J Toner, A Mulholland; J Gribbin, E McCabe, J McCaffrey; E Gibson, J Maybin; E Nagle, D McErlaine, T McAteer; L Quinn, D McEnhill, R Kelly. Subs: M Doherty for McCaffrey (41), J Lenehan for Maybin (46), R Brolly for Kelly (52), K McCann for Gibson (57), P Henvey for McEnhill (57), J McCann for McErlaine (b/c, 60), D Smith for K.McCann (b/c, 67), McCaffrey for Gribbon (68), S Duffin for Kelly (70).
Ref – S Campbell (Tyrone).