Tyrone destroy Donegal to claim place in Ulster final

Tyrone 1-21 Donegal 1-12

The pendulum has swung decisively in Tyrone’s favour in the battle of Ulster’s giants following a runaway win at Clones.

The Red Hands steam-rolled north-west neighbours to set up a provincial final clash with either Monaghan or Down.

Mickey Harte’s men dismantled their opponents in a tactical battle with a display of hunger, controlled aggression and superb finishing to coast home with nine points to spare.

Donegal pressed high in the opening stages, going ahead through Paddy McBrearty and Michael Murphy, both from placed balls.

But Tyrone’s tackling was crisp and incisive, and they turned possession over countless times with deft and perfectly timed touches to stretch their opponents with fast breaks from deep.

David Mulgrew and Mattie Donnelly had them level, but a superb long range effort from Murphy restored Donegal’s two points advantage.

The Red Hands’ support play was superbly calibrated, and they were soon in control of a fascinating tactical battle.

Donegal scored just one point in the final 25 minutes of the half as the Ulster champions took control in front of a crowd of 22,609.

They committed men to the attack in generous numbers, with five of their first half scores coming from defenders.

And it was exhibition stuff at times as they picked off seven scores on the spin to put Rory Gallagher’s men under almost unbearable pressure.

Peter Harte and Padraig Hampsey pushed up to send over two each, and there were points from Kieran McGeary, Niall Sludden and Sean Cavanagh as they turned around with a 0-12 to 0-5 interval lead.

And they struck a major blow less than three minutes into the second period when Tiernan McCann darted through a gap in the Donegal defence to fire home a goal.

Mark Bradley had just opened up a ten points lead when he was black-carded, but the Tyrone men maintained their focus, with Colm Cavanagh excelling in his demanding dual role as midfielder/sweeper.

Mattie Donnelly and McGeary added further scores, before Micheal Carroll pulled back a Donegal goal, latching on to the loose ball after Michael Langan’s shot had been blocked.

But the Red Hands didn’t waver, and Ronan O’Neill became the tenth player to score for the Anglo-Celt Cup holders, before Sludden slotted his fourth.

Niall Morgan and Declan McClure piled on the misery for Tir Chonaill, as a dozen players in total got in on the scoring act for the provincial champions, who won pulling up.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, ’45); A McCrory, R McNamee, P Hampsey (0-2); T McCann (1-1), C McCarron, P Harte (0-2); C Cavanagh, C McCann; K McGeary (0-3), N Sludden (0-4), D Mulgrew (0-1); M Bradley (0-2), S Cavanagh (0-1, f), M Donnelly (0-2).

Subs: D McCurry for Bradley (44 BC), R Brennan for Mulgrew (46), D McClure (0-1) for C McCann (50), R O’Neill (0-1) for S Cavanagh (56), C McShane for McGeary (56), J McMahon for Harte (70)

Donegal: MA McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, EB Gallagher; R McHugh, F McGlynn, E Doherty; J McGee, C Thompson; M Carroll (1-0), M Reilly (0-1), J Brennan; P McBrearty (0-6, 4f), M Murphy (0-3, 2 ’45), E McHugh..

Subs: K Lacey for J McGee (31), M McElhinney for McGlynn (h-t), H McFadden (0-1) for Brennan (h-t), C Mulligan for Thompson (38). K Gillespie for Doherty (46), M Langan (0-01) for E McHugh (59)

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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