Tyrone take Donegal by storm and book their place in All-Ireland semi-final

Tyrone take Donegal by storm and book their place in All-Ireland semi-final
Mark Bradley of Tyrone celebrates a second half score during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final Group 2 Phase 3 match between Tyrone and Donegal at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, Co Donegal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile.

Tyrone 2-17 - 1-13 Donegal

Francis Mooney

Tyrone took Ballybofey by storm with a massive final 20 minutes to crush Donegal and book their place in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

For almost an hour of this gripping Super 8s decider, Donegal looked like they had the mettle to put one over on their neighbours, but the fitness and strength in depth that the Red Hands brought to the latter stages simply blew the home side away.

A devastating contribution of 2-5 from a raft of substitutes brought the house down, and sent Tyrone storming into the last four.

A first defeat at MacCumhaill Park in 22 games brought Donegal’s season to a shuddering halt as they saw a four points lead turned into a seven points reversal at the hands of a ravenously hungry Tyrone side.

Late goals from substitutes Harry Loughran and Declan McClure epitomised their strength in depth, with Lee Brennan also coming off the bench to shoot 0-4, and Kieran McGeary coming in to make a massive impact.

Now Tyrone face Monaghan for the second time this season, with a golden opportunity to avenge their Ulster SFC first round defeat and reach a first All-Ireland final in ten years.

Tiernan McCann had Tyrone ahead inside 20 seconds, and after Murphy had tapped over a simple free, they regained the lead through Mark Bradley, making his first start since the Ulster Championship first round defeat to Monaghan.

Tyrone lost corner back Michael McKernan to a black card after just four minutes, but stretched their advantage with a Connor McAliskey free.

The intrigue of a tense contest was accentuated by a handful of crucial match-ups, with Padraig Hampsey shadowing Murphy and Conor Meyler bidding to curb the creativity of Ryan McHugh, while Donegal defender Paddy McGrath was tasked with snuffing out the threat posed by Niall Sludden.

As both sides retreated in numbers back into their own half when not in possession, free-flowing football was never going to illuminate this contest, but as the game wore on, Donegal enjoyed more success in opening the channels for Frank McGlynn and McHugh to run into.

McHugh landed a superb score in response to Mattie Donnelly’s effort, and Ciaran Thompson brought the home side level on 23 minutes.

But the remaining 15 minutes of the half belonged to a strong-running Donegal side, who outscored their opponents by 1-2 to 0-1.

Moments after Jamie Brennan, with his second, had nudged Declan Bonner’s side in front for the first time, they struck for a goal. Niall Morgan’s short kick-out was intercepted by McHugh, who sent Murphy in to smash the ball to the net.

Donegal went in with a 1-6 to 0-6 interval lead, and a furious start to the second half saw the sides trade point for point, with Michael Langan and Odhran MacNiallaias scores cancelled out by Peter Harte and Lee Brennan, who scored twice in quick succession after coming off the bench.

Four points behind, though, Tyrone had to chase the game, and they created two decent goal chances. Brennan crossed for McShane, who mis-cued, and Harry Loughran was denied by a superb McHugh block, launching the counter-attack from which Paddy McGrath landed a gem.

But Tyrone had the legs and the quality off the bench to wrest control of the game from their neighbours in the final 20 minutes.

Colm Cavanagh, Peter Harte and Tiernan McCann were immense as they drove from deep at a tiring Donegal defence, with Hampsey, McGeary and Mattie Donnelly all landing points.

And it was McCann who crossed for substitute Harry Loughran to fist home a 62nd-minute goal to put them back in front.

There was more to come from the Red Hands, with goalkeeper Niall Morgan converting a ’45, and Brennan bringing his tally to four.

Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Niall O’Donnell replied for Donegal, but with Cavanagh fetching in spectacular fashion deep in his own defence, a series of attacks were repelled.

Mattie Donnelly and Brennan tagged on points, goalkeeper Morgan converted a ’45 and full back Ronan McNamee also got in on the scoring act as the Red Hands soared ahead,

And they finished the job off in stoppage time when sub Declan McClure slotted home a second goal.

Donegal: S Patton; P McGrath (0-1), N McGee, S McMenamin; E Ban Gallagher (0-1), E Doherty, R McHugh (0-1); H McFadden, L McLoone; F McGlynn, M Langan (0-1), C Thompson (0-1); O MacNiallais (0-2), M Murphy (1-2, 0-1f, 0-1 ’45), J Brennan (0-3).

Subs: P Brennan for Thompson (49), N O’Donnell (0-1) for MacNiallais (55), A Thompson for McGlynn (60), M McElhinney for Langan (62), M O’Reilly for McLoone (66), M McHugh for McGrath (71)

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, f); M McKernan, R McNamee (0-1), F Burns; T McCann (0-1), M Donnelly (0-2), P Harte (0-1, f), C Cavanagh (0-1), P Hampsey (0-2); C McShane, N Sludden, C Meyler; M Bradley (0-1), R Donnelly, C McAliskey (0-2, 2f).

Subs: R Brennan for McKernan (4, BC), L Brennan (0-4, 1f) for R Donnelly (38), K McGeary (0-1) for Burns (38), H Loughran (1-0) for McAliskey (47), C McCann for C McShane (53), D McClure (1-0) for Sludden (67)

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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