McDonald, who scored 1-11 for Wexford when they beat Kilkenny in the Leinster U21 final last year, tortured his black and amber opponents again when he rattled off 2-5 at the MW Hire Training Centre in Dunmore.
Helped by his Model County team-mate Jack Guiney, McDonald led the students on a scoring charge either side of half-time that saw them take control of the game.
A Kilkenny side made up entirely of U21 players – the team was led by new U21 boss Eddie Brennan – opened brightly under the lights. Helped by some sharp scoring from Eoin Brennan, Gary Tynan and Michael Kenny they fashioned a six-point lead by the 27th minute (0-9 to 0-3).
DIT, who had McDonald as their sole scorer in that time (two from play, one via a free), stepped up the pace as the interval loomed. Guiney got them going, breaking through to notch up a 28th minute point that sparked his side into life.
The last seven minutes of the half belonged to the Students, who rattled off a neat 2-2. McDonald led the way with a goal, finishing from close range after a great pass from Derek McNicholas. McDonald added another point to his tally before, on the stroke of half-time, Guiney won a high ball and outmuscled his marker to make enough space on the edge of the square to slam home a goal. That strike was enough to edge DIT into a two-point lead at the break (2-5 to 0-9).
The sides opened brightly in the second- half, sharing the first four scores between them – Michael Kenny got both Kilkenny points via frees – but another DIT goal wasn’t long in coming.
Again, it came from the McDonald and Guiney double act. Guiney made the breakthrough, bursting past the defence but when his 42nd minute strike was saved by goalkeeper Darren Brennan McDonald was on hand to sweep home the loose sliotar (3-7 to 0-11). Kilkenny didn’t give in, and continued to pick off points but were finally done for when DIT netted a fourth goal through subCian O’Donoghue – who hails from Kilkenny club Tullogher-Rosbercon – the gap was too great for the Cats to bridge.
Conor McDonald (2-5, 0-2 frees); Jack Guiney (1-2); Derek McNicholas (0-4); Cian O’Donoghue (1-0); Jude Sweeney, Robbie Greville, Conor Sheehan (0-1 each).
Michael Kenny (0-6, frees); Gary Tynan, Ciaran Ryan (0-3 each); Eoin Brennan, Billy Ryan (0-2 each).
P. McKenny, S. McClelland, T. Doyle, C. Robinson, C. Byrne, J. Henderson, G. Whelan, D. Byrne, R. Greville, J. Sweeney, J. Guiney, C. Sheehan, B. Kelly, C. McDonald, D. McNicholas.
C. O’Donoghue for B. Kelly; D. Guinan for Henderson.
D. Brennan, P. Kirwan, C. Delaney, M. Carroll, J.P. Treacy, E. Cody, P. Cass, L. Scanlon, N. Mullins, E. Brennan, G. Tynan, M. Kenny, C. Ryan, B. Ryan, K. Farrell.
S. O’Farrell for Kenny; S. Dowling for Scanlon; R. Bergin for M. Carroll; N. Walsh for E. Brennan; P. Lyng for Tynan.
P. Murphy (Carlow).