Donegal 2-12 Tyrone 0-17
Donegal came back from last year’s painful defeat to win the Lory Meagher Cup in dramatic circumstances at Croke Park today.
A 70th minute goal from Ciarán Mathewson snatched the honours for Andrew Wallace’s men after a thrilling Ulster derby of high quality and Tyrone never managed to fashion an opportunity to bring it to extra time.
It was a particularly poignant day for Donegal captain Colm Breathnach, whose early sending off in the 2010 decider left his side with too much to do against Longford. This time around, the man from the Waterford gaeltacht of An Rinn led a stout defensive resistance that ensured Donegal’s goal was not breached and kept them in touch for the amazing denouement.
Mathewson was the hero of the hour though, finishing with a personal tally of 2-3 from play, after plundering 1-2 in the opening half.
That first half contribution was critical in giving the winners a 1-7 to 0-8 interval advantage, something that seemed unlikely after 20 minutes as Tyrone led by 0-7 to 0-2.
Red Hands full-forward Rory O’Neill clipped over two early points, and with Aidan Kelly, Garry Fox and the impressive Conor Grogan also on the mark, they had an authoritative air about them.
That all changed courtesy of Mathewson’s 21st minute goal though. Now operating in the corner, the lively Seán Mac Cumhaills man latched onto a loose ball behind the defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot to the roof of the Tyrone net.
Mathewson added a brace of points and with Niall Campbell unerring from placed balls, Donegal held a two-point lead at half time.
Both sides were guilty of some poor shooting early in the second half, while Tyrone goalkeeper John Devlin made a brilliant and brave close-range save from Enda McDermott. At the other end, Aidan Kelly missed a good goal opportunity.
Gradually though, Tom Magill’s men exerted dominance around the middle and with Justin Kelly and Grogan slotting six points between them, they led by two with time almost up.
Donegal had struggled to get Mathewson in possession throughout the latter term but McDermott’s late delivery gave him the one-on-one he craved with time almost up. He beat his marker easily and carried a few yards before sending a powerful drive to the net to spark wild celebrations amongst the small but vocal Donegal hurling community.
Donegal: P O’Brien; S O’Connor, C Breathnach, A McDermott; J Donnelly, C Dowds, J Boyle; S McVeigh 0-1, P Sheridan 0-1; E Organ, S Boyle, C Mathewson 2-3; M McCann 0-1, E McDermott, N Campbell 0-6(4fs, 1 65). Subs: P Hannigan for Organ (47); L Henderson for McCann (63); M McGhee for Boyle (68)
Tyrone: J Devlin; Ryan O’Neill; D Maguire, R Winters; SP Begley, S Donnelly, M Grogan; C Gallagher, M O’Gorman; G Fox 0-1, J Kelly 0-5(3fs), A Kelly 0-3(2fs); C McErlean, Rory O’Neill 0-2, C Grogan 0-3. Subs: P O’Connor 0-3 for McErlean (ht); T Hughes for O’Gorman (60); M Winters for A Kelly (60)
Referee: F Smith (Meath)