On another emotionally-charged evening in Tyrone, a grieving community reached out for normality.
Football made a welcome return, if only as a mere distraction, but an important one for players and supporters struggling to make sense of the tragedy that has deeply affected them all. Michaela McAreavey was in the thoughts of everybody present at Edendork, as a minute of silent reflection was followed by a Dr. McKenna Cup victory for the home side. There was no celebration of this win over Donegal, little satisfaction indeed, but this was a significant first step in the healing process.
Tyrone made a strong start to a game and after Mark Donnelly poked home a goal in the 12th minute, half backs Dermot Carlin and Davy Harte added to scores from Sean Cavanagh and Martin Penrose. But Donegal hit form, scoring eight points without replay in the final 15 minutes of the half, including two each from Daniel McLaughlin, Dermot Molloy and Karl Lacey, to lead by 0-10 to 1-6 at the break.
Tyrone’s task was made more difficult by a red card for Colm Cavanagh in first-half stoppage time, but Donegal also went down to 14 men four minutes into the second half — Neil McGee sent off. Ryan McMenamin, Carlin, Cavanagh, Brian McGuigan and Enda McGinley all raised their game, before Aidan Cassidy gave them a lead they would never lose.
Colm McFadden, Ryan McErlane and Molloy kept Donegal in touch, but Tyrone sealed the win with late scores from McGuigan and Cassidy.
TYRONE: J. Curran; A. McCrory, C. McCarron, M. Swift; D. Harte (0-1), D. Carlin (0-1), R. McMenamin (0-1); A. Cassidy (0-2), S. Cavanagh (0-3, 3f); C. Cavanagh, B. McGuigan (0-2), C. Gervin; M. Penrose (0-2, 1f), E. McGinley, M. Donnelly (1-1).
Subs: K. Hughes for Girvan, P. McNeice for Donnelly.
DONEGAL: P. Durkan; P. McGrath, N. McGee, K. Mulhern; L. Keeney, L. McLoone (0-1), K. Cassidy; R. Kavanagh (0-1), C. Classon; D. McLaughlin (0-2), D. Molloy (0-3, 2f), O. MacNiallais (0-1); K. Lacey (0-2), R. McErlane (0-1), C. McFadden (0-2).
Subs: F. McGlynn for Kavanagh, A. Hanlon for Mac Niallais, Mac Niallais for McLaughlin.
Referee: J. McQuillan (Cavan).