Donegal win sparks relegation fears for Tyrone

Donegal 0-11 Tyrone 0-8

Donegal 0-11 Tyrone 0-8

Donegal are celebrating a long-awaited first win of the season, a result they managed to grind out in unspectacular fashion against an out-of-sorts Tyrone side at Ballybofey last night.

Now John Joe Doherty’s side have given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation, while the All-Ireland champions are looking at the prospect of losing their Division One status.

Tyrone scored just one point in the second half, while five converted frees from Stephen Griffifn settled the issue in the end.

Two Sean Cavanagh frees eased the Red Hands into a two points lead, but with Christy Toye foraging in midfield and veteran Brian Roper always in the thick of the action, the home side soon drew level.

Emerging wing back Michael Maguire was another putting in a solid shift for Tir Chonall, and he thumped over a couple of excellent scores from distance.

Donegal got in for a shot on goal on 12 minutes when Michael Doherty sent David Walsh clear, but John Devine rose to the challenge, diving to his right to pull off a brilliant save.

Stephen Griffin proved his accuracy from placed balls with three converted frees in a closely contested first half that saw the sides level five times.

Donegal should have been able to assert themselves, but a series of turnovers and misplaced shots allowed their opponents off the hook.

One such lapse allowed corner back PJ Quinn to rob Conall Dunne and craft the opening for Owen Mulligan to regain the lead for Tyrone.

It wasn’t until the 25th minute that David Walsh became the first Donegal attacker to score from play.

That was the score that brought the sides level on 0-7 each at the break, after Colm McCullagh’s superb angled point had given the Red Hands a two-point cushion.

Donegal continued to frustrate their long-suffering supporters with another rash of wides early in the second half, but they did sneak in front for the first time in the 42nd minute when Roper split the posts.

However, they lost the influential Maguire to a yellow card on 48 minutes, but continued to put the visitors under pressure, with Barry Monaghan and Rory Kavanagh making a telling impact.

Two more Griffin frees opened out a three points gap, but the full forward blazed wide when presented with a golden goal chance by Roper’s timely pass.

Manager Joe Doherty’s half-time pep talk has clearly done the trick, with his side now performing with new-found levels of confidence and ambition.

Tyrone had gone 37 minutes without scoring before substitute Brian McGuigan ended the drought with a neat score from a tight angle.

But the Red Hands did have chances aplenty in the closing stages, but some deplorable shooting was top prove costly, although Cavanagh smashed a shot against a post a minute from the end.

Donegal: P Durcan, J Gallagher, N McGee, P McDaid, C Byrne, B Monaghan, M Maguire (0-2), B Boyle, C Toye (0-1), D Walsh (0-1), B Roper (0-1), R Kavanagh, C Dunne, S Griffin (0-5, 5f), M Doherty (0-1, f).

Subs: E Waide for Maguire (yellow card, 48), M Murphy for Griffin (56), R Sweeney for Monaghan (65), R Bradley for Boyle (68), O Doherty for Dunne (69)

Tyrone: J Devine, PJ Quinn, C Gormley, C Gourley, D Harte, S O’Neill, P Jordan, K Hughes, C Holmes, C Cavanagh, O Mulligan (0-1), T McGuigan, C McCullagh (0-2, 1f), S Cavanagh (0-3, 2f), R Mellon (0-1).

Subs: B McGuigan (0-1) for Mellon (50), E McGinley for Holmes (54), M Swift for Quinn (55), M Penrose for McCullagh (59), N Gormley for T McGuigan (66), C McCarron for C Gormley (72).

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