Donegal too strong for Louth in All-Ireland quarter-final

Donegal captain Patrick McBrearty challenges for the ball

Donegal wore down Louth to book their place in the All-Ireland Football semi-finals for the first time since 2014 with a 1-23 to 0-18 win at Croke Park.

The Ulster champions were strong favourites to see off the beaten Leinster finalists and led 0-11 to 0-8 at the break.

Louth, who combined spirit with high-quality shooting at times, ran out of steam in a dull second half, with their challenge killed off by Eoghan Ban Gallagher's 58th-minute goal.

Donegal, for whom Peadar Mogan again impressed, join Armagh and Galway in the semi-finals, with either Derry or Kerry completing the line-up later on Sunday.

Having stormed to the Ulster title in impressive fashion before topping their group in the round-robin stage, the Donegal fans travelled down the road on Sunday morning with strong belief that their county would end a 10-year wait for the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Jim McGuinness' return has unquestionably given the county a huge shot in the arm, and while Donegal were strong favourites to follow Armagh into the last four, Louth were not prepared to roll over.

The Wee County, who have exceeded expectations in Ger Brennan's first season at the helm, were perhaps inspired by Galway's seismic win over Dublin on Saturday evening as they refused to let Donegal out of their sight during a first half healthily populated by high-quality shooting.

Donegal, quick out of the blocks, knocked over five of the first six scores, with Ryan McHugh, Patrick McBrearty, Conor O'Donnell, Oisin Gallen and Mogan opening their accounts.

But after Mogan saw a goal-bound shot saved by Niall McDonnell, Louth appeared to lift their game, countering straight away through Ryan Burns.

And while Michael Langan and Ciaran Moore struck a quick double, three on the spin from Louth brought them back to within one, with captain Sam Mulroy shaking off an earlier clash of heads with team-mate Conall McKeever to nail a superb left-footed free off the ground in a first-half highlight.

While McGuinness cut a frustrated figure while in discussion with his backroom team, his players afforded themselves some breathing space before the break with Mogan and Gallen extending the lead to 0-11 to 0-8 .

Donegal, who have claimed big scalps during the first year of McGuinness' second era, looked the fitter and stronger team in the second half.

Indeed, by the time Michael Langan in the 53rd minute, Donegal led 0-18 to 0-11, and while Louth reeled off three in a row, the Tir Chonaill men struck the killer blow when Eoghan Ban Gallagher tapped home from point-blank range after McBrearty's effort came back off the post.

More to follow.