Tyrone 3-6 Donegal 1-11
Tyrone made the most of three goals to defeat Donegal in a robust senior football encounter last Sunday.
Despite a 12 score output to nine for the winners, Donegal will rue the soft goal that was given to Tyrone at the opening of the game. They battled hard throughout, but after they had tied the contest, they were overtaken in the last five minutes by a brace of points by Tyrone.
Donegal had two goal chances to open the game, and they made full use of the second. John McGinley stopped Anton Toner on the first after a nice three-player move, but the keeper was helpless in the second minute when Conor Brosnan latched on to a C.J. Molloy pass and drove it into the net.
It was a short held lead, however, as Tyrone punished a defensive slip with a goal by John Murtagh. Donegal settled and took the rebuttal in stride and had the next two points of the game through Brosnan again and Tom Hardwick, an excellent score.
A point in reply by Murtagh from a free that scrapped its way over was quickly cancelled out by Kevin Lilly, and with 15 minutes gone Donegal had a 1-3 to 1-1 lead.
The ugly side of the game reared its head in the moments thereafter, and when the dust had settled it was a surprise that the sides still had 14 each on the field.
It began when Molloy found the floor, and a large melee started. While the county under-21 would certainly have had valid reason to retaliate, he was subject to further abuse.
Now Donegal were not entirely innocent, but when calm was restored in round one Molloy and Conor McNabb both had straight reds.
Within moments round two began, full-fledged shots were given and taken but the game resumed with all still on the field. It had in fact been just as intense as the first round.
Most certainly one player should have gone as the shots he landed could be seen from 70 yards away; he remained, however.
Donegal came out of the donnybrook far livelier. They had three of the next four points as Tyrone were punished by four balls coming out of their defense, but going straight into Donegal hands.
Aiden Downes, Niall Bradley and Sean Carr all had timely interceptions and worked the ball out effectively. Bobby McDonald had a goal chance, but he blasted wide on the run from a very capable position and it allowed Tyrone to stay within earshot.
They have a history this year of taking advantage when they are behind. It was no different on this occasion.
With the clock ticking down another glorious chance came their way, and again the defense was in the giving mood. Darren Petit grasped the ball on the left wing and found Garth McCrory. The poacher made no mistake as he found net seconds before the buzzer arrived.
Tyrone followed the goal with a point to open the second half from Eamonn Lyons. It arrived, however, after Donegal had lost Hardwick to an injury when he landed hard on the throw in. We wish him well.
After Gary Dowd cancelled the score out with his first of the game, again Tyrone used the net shaker as a way to take the lead. They worked the ball out from the back, with the repositioned Petit winning the ball in the middle of the field and firing to Conor Downey in the corner. His long ball to the square was met first time by Brendan Moran, the lone Tyrone player in four, and his touch found the net.
For the next 10 minutes it was a case of hot potato as both sides kicked the ball back and forth to each other. It was a game literally between the two 21s as both sides moved the ball 50 yards before the final ball let them down.
A Downey point from the right corner broke the ice on 18 minutes, but it preceded an intense period of Donegal pressure that resulted with three points on the board and the game tied up.
Lilly had a pair from frees as he took the team on his shoulders for a period. Tyrone responded, however, and they had points from Murtagh and Conor Skeffington. His was a brilliant score from deep in the left corner. It may have been a cross but certainly looked a great score.
It moved them back into a 3-6 to 1-10 lead, and despite a wonderful John McNicholas free Donegal could not get any closer.
John McGinley made an important save for Tyrone in the first minute, and his kick outs were a great way to relieve danger. Gerard McCullough, Steve Keating and Joe Bell were the best of the defenders; Eamonn Lyons the most dominant of all the midfielders. His point was a good one.
John Murtagh showed a lot of his Crossmaglen promise, while Darren Petit continues to come alive—1-2 from the bench was a huge help.
Aiden Downes was terrific for Donegal. Eoin McNeill, James Huvane, Bobby McDonald all had contributions. John McNicholas and Lilly had some very good scores.
Donegal: 1 Eunan Doherty, 2 Tony McMahon, 3 Aiden Downes, 4 Eoin McNeil, 5 Niall McMahon, 6 Shane Carr, 7 James Huvane, 8 Gary Dowd (0-1), 9 Tony Hardwick (0-1), 10 Bobby McDonald, 11 Conor Brosnan (1-1), 12 John McNicholas (0-4), 13 Kevin Lilly (0-4), 14 C.J. Molloy, 15 Anton Toner. Subs: Justin Friel, Kevin Purce.