Letterkenny IT are making the transition from Trench Cup to Sigerson Cup look seamless – their six-point win over IT Sligo at Ballinode has put the Donegal outfit into the last four of third level football's top tier.
Managed by Donegal ace Michael Murphy, LYIT - who won the Trench Cup last season - were full value for their 1-14 to 1-8 quarter-final triumph at IT Sligo's base.
A stunning goal from midfielder Michael Langan proved key for the winners – who started with 15 Donegal club men– and it helped them lead 1-9 to 1-4 at the break.
LYIT's three key attackers – Peadar Mogan, Darragh Black, and Eoin McGettigan were each on target during the opening period, with captain Black and McGettigan firing tasty points from play.
Black, indeed, should have goaled from a 17th-minute chance but drilled the ball over the crossbar.
An IT Sligo goal after 22 minutes – Tiernan McSkean goaled from close-range after fellow defender Nathan Boyle's goalbound shot was blocked – threatened to energise the hosts for whom only Sean Carrabine, the Sligo player, was a consistent threat.
IT Sligo improved in the second-half and almost matched LYIT's tally in that period, scoring 0-4 compared to their opponents' five points.
But IT Sligo couldn't produce a goal with captain Andrew McClean, Cian Lally, and Cormac Murray all desperately close. IT Sligo's frustration at watching this game slip away culminated in straight red cards for Lee Jones and Luke Molloy. LYIT almost netted in the last minute but substitute Liam Jackon's shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Paddy O'Malley.
A delighted LYIT manager Michael Murphy hailed his charges: "Their attitude and application has been incredible. They are all good footballers, yes, but when to comes to days like this you need character in abundance. All the players brought that attitude to this game. There are no egos – everyone gets down to the nitty-gritty of it."
Murphy's upbeat reflections contrasted with that of his counterpart, IT Sligo boss Brendan Drummond, who admitted that LYIT had been the better side. “It is disappointing to lose but Letterkenny are a well-drilled team. They got a great start and our boys didn't settle – for the first 15 minutes we were running after shadows,” Drummond said.
Scorers IT Sligo: S Carrabine (0-5, 4f), T McSkean (1-0), C McGloin (0-2), L Jones (0-1).
Scorers for Letterkenny IT: M Langan (1-2, 1f), E McGettigan (0-4, 1f), D Black (0-3), P Mogan (0-3, 3f), J Campbell (0-1), L Jackson (0-1).
IT SLIGO: P O'Malley (Roscommon), J Haran (Sligo), D Phillips (Cavan), T McSkean (Monaghan), N Boyle (Donegal), C McGloin (Leitrim), S Carrabine (Sligo), K McBreaty (Donegal), L Molloy (Cavan), L Jones (Fermanagh), A McClean (Donegal) (c), S Murphy (Sligo), T Govorov (Donegal), N McGovern (Leitrim), C Murray (Clare)
Subs: C Lally (Sligo) for McGovern, 38; J Clarke (Carlow) for Haran, 40; S McGrath (Donegal) for Murray, 52; R Harkin (Longford) for McSkean, 60+3
LETTERKENNY IT (all Donegal): M Lynch, A Gillooly, M McAteer, N McElwaine, U Doherty, O Langan, C Bonner, M Langan, C Marley, R McFadden, P Mogan, P Dolan, D Black (c), J O'Dowd, E McGettigan.
Subs: J Campbell (Donegal) for J O'Dowd, 45; L Jackson (Louth) for C Bonner, 46; M Duffy (Donegal) for R McFadden, 55; M McAteer (Donegal) for D Black, 60; J McGill (Donegal) for P Dolan 60+1.
Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo)