Derry with a point toprove in fortress Ballybofey

All-Ireland SFC Round 2
Donegal v Derry
Sunday, MacCumhaill Park, 4pm
(Live on RTÉ)

By Michael McMullan

IT took nearly 100 minutes of tactical intrigue to separate these teams in last year’s Ulster final until Brendan Rogers and Conor Glass ran Donegal on a path they couldn’t follow.

Before that, it was one decisive swing of Patrick McBrearty’s left leg that sunk Derry in Ballybofey in 2021 championship opener

Derry will hope to do what only Tyrone, Monaghan, Down and Mayo have done since 2010 – win a game at Donegal’s MacCumhaill Park fortress.

It was Mayo’s win there back in March that pushed Donegal towards the league’s top flight exit door after a testingTh season.

After losing to Down in the Ulster Championship, everything was stacked in favour of Clare turning them over in Ennis when the All-Ireland group stages began earlier this month.

Peadar Mogan and Michael Langan are on the long-term injury list. Caolan McColgan didn’t start and Stephen McMenamin wasn’t risked ahead of Sunday’s visit of Derry. Donegal skipper Patrick McBrearty’s name on the matchday 26 will keep Derry guessing in their approach.

Trailing 0-4 to 0-1 against Clare, it took a vital Shaun Patton save to keep the Banner from inflicting more pain.

It kept Donegal afloat and allowed Oisin Gallen to kick four points on his first start since March. And Ciaran Thompson did what Ciaran Thompson does, curls spinners with the left peg.

It was a huge result in every way for Donegal and it left them in the same long grass Monaghan found themselves in, peeking through at Derry.

The Farney men had four weeks of freshness and licking of the wounds either side of getting a good look at Derry in their mammoth Ulster final.

Former Derry star and current coach Paddy Bradley and manager Aidan O’Rourke will have had a chance to survey Saturday’s draw at Celtic Park. And they’ll have taken plenty on board.

Ethan Doherty and Paul Cassidy had their backdoor cut route closed off and forced into the recycle mode.

When Derry passively dropped off, it allowed Rory Beggan to repeat Ethan Rafferty’s Ulster final dose of initialising the first line of attack. It’s something Patton used to good effect in Ennis.

Micheál Bannigan dropped off to pick up four of Beggan’s short restarts. Karl O’Connell was allowed the latitude to stamp his authority on Derry. He won six kick-outs from either end and mixed tracking Rogers on the run with pushing up on Paul Cassidy as a kick-out option.

Donegal, who have averaged 0-11 per game across league and championship, will have seeb how Derry sat back, almost inviting Monaghan on to them. The Farney’s total matched their average league and championship return of 0-14.

While not many of their scores were pot shots, many were on the tricky side of comfortable and demanded the crisp strike that rewarded bravery.

Only Jason McGee in the championship against Down and Oisin Gallen with a penalty in their league draw with Galway in Letterkenny have found the net for Donegal since the end of the McKenna Cup.

That’s a code they’ll need to crack this weekend. Speaking after their defeat to Down, O’Rourke was full of regret at their missed chances in a game that sat there.

And back to their draw with Galway. It was an afternoon of frustration. Donegal were excellent in every way, but kicked themselves out of contention, yet were fortunate Paul Conroy didn’t crush their point from his last-gasp free.

When Ciaran Meenagh sits down for his preparation this week, he’ll have to factor in Daire Ó Baoill who was in Man of the Match form against Down.

Their shape will depend on the fitness of Jason McGee. He pulled up in the final play against Down when Donegal had all their subs used. His recovery from a hamstring problem reduced him to a second half role against Clare.

Paddy Bradley stated their hopes McBrearty would feature at some point in the championship and he could be option on Sunday to throw a spanner in Derry’s marking arrangements.

Gallen is their main outlet and it’ll be a job for Chrissy McKaigue to lock his game face onto. Derry will need a man to limit the influence of Ciaran Thompson. It would be a job for Paudi McGrogan, with a message to any spare body in the vicinity to cover him stepping around on the loop.

Speaking after Saturday night’s draw in Celtic Park, Meenagh admitted to not having thought much of their trip to Ballybofey with Monaghan taking all their focus. That will have changed since Sunday afternoon and onwards. After two draws, Derry are now a team with something to prove.

Before a ball was kicked in the group stages, Derry were the fancied horse to top the section. The glistening silver of the Anglo Celt Cup counted for nothing when Monaghan hustled them last weekend. And it will count for even less in Ballybofey.


2022 Derry 1-16 Donegal 1-14 AET (Clones)
A TOUR de force from Conor Glass and Brendan Rogers eventually wore Donegal down in extra-time to land Derry’s first Ulster title in 24 years.

After two one-point first round defeats in his first two seasons as Derry manager, Rory Gallagher guided the Oakleafers through in a tactical arm-wrestle in front of a packed and sun-drenched St Tiernach’s Park.

It took patience and nerve for Derry edge themselves over the finish line with the final whistle signalling a wave to red and white invasion by fans to celebrate the ending of a famine.

Derry: O Lynch; C McKaigue, B Rogers (0-3), C McCluskey; C Doherty (0-1), G McKinless, P McGrogan; C Glass (0-1), E Doherty; Paul Cassidy (0-1), S Downey (0-1), N Toner; B Heron, S McGuigan (0-6, 5f), N Loughlin (1-2, 1f)
Subs: E Bradley (0-1) for Loughlin (46), L Murray for Heron (64), B McCarron for Toner (68), P McNeill for Downey (72), N Toner for McCarron (ET 11), B Heron for Murray (ET 11), O McWilliams for Doherty (ET 16)

Donegal: S Patton; C Ward, B McCole, S McMenamin; R McHugh (0-1), EB Gallagher, O McFadden-Ferry (1-0); C McGonagle (0-3), J McGee (0-2); P Mogan, S O’Donnell (0-2), M Langan; P McBrearty (0-2f), M Murphy (0-2), J Brennan
Subs: C O’Donnell for J Brennan (57), A Doherty (0-1m) for O McFadden-Ferry (64), N O’Donnell for S O’Donnell (72), H McFadden for J McGee (ET 1), C Thompson (0-1) for C McGonagle (ET 10), P Brennan for M Langan (ET 11)

2018 Derry 0-16 Donegal 2-16 – Ulster SFC quarter-final
2020 Donegal 1-10 Derry 0-8 – Dr McKenna Cup
2021 Donegal 0-16 Derry 0-15 – Ulster SFC quarter-final
2022 Donegal 2-9 Derry 0-11 – Dr McKenna Cup
2022Derry 1-16 Donegal 1-14 AET – Ulster final



McKenna Cup
Fermanagh 1-4 Derry 0-11
Derry 0-10 Tyrone 0-10
Down 3-9 Derry 1-15(Derry won 3-2 on penalties)
Derry 3-11 Tyrone 1-5

Derry 0-16 Limerick 0-4
Louth 1-11Derry 2-11
Derry 2-15 Meath 1-7
Kildare 0-7 Derry 2-15
Derry 1-11 Dublin 0-13
Derry 0-14 Clare 0-4
Cork 1-14 Derry 1-14
Dublin 4-6 Derry 0-11

Fermanagh 2-8 Derry 3-17
Derry 1-21 Monaghan 2-10
Derry 1-15 Armagh 0-18 AET (Derry win 3-1 on penalties)
Derry 0-14 Monaghan 0-14


McKenna Cup
Down 2-14 Donegal 1-10
Monaghan 0-15 Donegal 2-7

Donegal 0-13 Kerry 1-9
Donegal 0-8 Tyrone 0-16
Monaghan 1-20 Donegal 0-15
Donegal 1-9 Galway 1-9
Mayo 1-17 Donegal 0-9
Roscommon 0-21 Donegal 0-9

Down 2-13 Donegal 1-11
Clare 0-9 Donegal 0-14


Shane McGuigan 5-89 (3 pens, 43f, 3m, 1 45)
Niall Toner 3-28 (13f)
Paul Cassidy 1-17

Oisin Gallen 1-15 (6f, 1 pen)
Conor O’Donnell 0-15
Ciaran Thompson 0-13 (4f)

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