Donegal clear first big hurdle

Donegal clear first big hurdle

Donegal 2-10 Tyrone 0-10

Donegal put the squeeze on Tyrone in the second half to get the better of their north-west neighbours for the third year in a row in Ulster.

Goals from Colm McFadden and Ross Wherity quelled a Red Hand rising and snuffed out the prospect of an upset as the Tir Chonail machine finally began to purr.

The All-Ireland champions had to play second fiddle for long spells of the first half, but by the end of a captivating contest at Ballybofey, they had rediscovered the method and almost perfected the system.

Tyrone went 33 minutes without scoring in that second period, and their dead ball expert, goalkeeper Niall Morgan, had an off-day, nailing just one of six long range placed ball efforts.

Colm McFadden (2) and Michael Murphy both converted early frees as the Sam Maguire Cup holders took the game to their neighbours right from the off.

By the seventh minute, they had moved into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead, with David Walsh, a pre-match replacement for Mark McHugh, hitting their opening point from play.

Conor McAliskey collected Martin Penrose’s threaded pass to hit Tyrone’s opener, and Sean Cavanagh narrowed the gap from a free.

The Red Hands were dominating possession around midfield, with Conor Gormley, Peter Harte and Mattie Donnelly hovering up broken ball and setting their side on the attack.

Stephen O’Neill arrowed over a vintage score, and after missing his first shot at goal, goalkeeper Niall Morgan converted a 47 metre free.

McFadden had a chance for the game’s opening goal when he collected Murphy’s sideline ball from Murphy, but Justin McMahon denied the corner forward with a superb block.

When Mattie Donnelly collected Peter Harte’s return pass to slot a neat score, the sides were level on 0-5 each on 25 minutes.

Colm Cavanagh powered over a long range point to ease the Red Hands ahead, but in the 32nd minute the home side grabbed a goal against the run of play.

Murphy sent in a free from halfway, and McFadden collected Paddy McBrearty’s flick to send a low, angled shot past Morgan.

Donegal led by 1-6 to 0-7 at the interval, but the visiting side went level within five minutes of the restart through Sean Cavanagh.

Karl Lacey joined the action to galvanise the Donegal machine, and his experience proved vital as they began to turn the screw and push their opponents out of the game.

The game took a decisive twist in favour of the home side when substitute Ross Wherity palmed home their second goal in the 49th minute after McBrearty had skinned his marker with a searing run and a killer cross.

Donegal were now winning a midfield that had earlier been Tyrone’s for the taking, and pressing higher up the field, and when McBearty and Murphy tagged on points, they led by five going into the home straight.

Tyrone’s fading ambitions became almost impossible when Joe McMahon picked up a second yellow card 10 minutes from the end.

The Red Hand attack was suffocated by Donegal’s defensive system, held scoreless for an incredible 33 minutes before substitute Kyle Coney shot a consolation score.

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, E McGee, Declan Walsh, A Thompson, R Kavanagh (0-1), N Gallagher, R Bradley, L McLoone, David Walsh (0-1), P McBrearty (0-2), M Murphy (0-3, 2f), C McFadden (0-3, 2f).

Subs: M McHugh for McGlynn, M O’Reilly for Bradley, M McEhinney for David Walsh, K Lacey for Thompson, R Wherity (1-0) for McLoone

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, f), PJ Quinn, C Clarke, C McCarron, Justin McMahon (0-1), Mattie Donnelly (0-2), C Gormley, C Cavanagh (0-1), Joe McMahon, P Harte, S Cavanagh (0-2, 1f), Mark Donnelly, M Penrose, S O’Neill (0-1), C McAliskey (0-1).

Subs: P McNeice for McAliskey, D Carlin for Quinn, A Cassidy for Justin McMahon, K Coney for Mark Donnelly, A McCrory for Carlin (blood), K Coney (0-1) for Mark Donnelly

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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