Donegal maintain push for second consecutive Ulster title

Donegal 0-12 Tyrone 0-10

Donegal 0-12 Tyrone 0-10

Donegal survived in a furious finish to qualify for the Ulster SFC final, where they will meet Down.

It was goalkeeper Paul Durcan who emerged as the hero, saving from Martin Penrose in stoppage time as Tyrone went for the goal that would have given them a second chance.

Donegal’s defensive strategy had succeeded in shutting the Red Hands out in the second half, holding them scoreless for more than half an hour, but in the end it all came down to the brilliance of their ‘keeper.

The reigning provincial champions will go in as favourites to retain their title, but for Tyrone, it’s another joust with the Qualifiers, a route which has served them well in the past, having won two of their three All-Irelands via the scenic route.

Tyrone took the game to their opponents in the early stages, and eased ahead with scores from Joe McMahon and Stephen O’Neill.

But Donegal were level by the eighth minute when Mark McHugh landed a point from all of 50 metres, before a Michael Murphy free made it 0-2 each.

Mark Donnelly and Paddy McBrearty swapped points to make it 0-3 each after 17 minutes, and teenager Conor Clarke, a pre-match replacement for the injured Justin Mcmahon, pushed forward to drive over a point.

He also set up a score for wing back Sean O’Neill as Tyrone varied their approach, and the Red Hands almost had a goal when Joe McMahon fired in a shot which was saved by ‘keeper Paul Durcan, and when the ball broke to Mark Donnelly, Paddy McGrath got back to block.

Colm McFadden was held scoreless by Conor Gormley, except for a 35th minute free which brought the sides level for the fifth time.

But Tyrone edged in front through Martin Penrose in stoppage time to lead by 0-6 to 0-5 at the break.

Another McMahon free had the Red Hands two points ahead erlyu in the second half, but they allowed Rory Kavanagh too much space to twice power through the middle and kick points.

Corner back Dermot Carlin’s point in the 40th minute was to be their last for a full 32 minutes as the Donegal defensive strategy began to work a treat.

McFadden, Murphy and Karl Lacey all hit the target as Tir Chonaill moved ahead, and as the game slipped into its closing stages, they led by 0-12 to 0-8.

Tyrone introduced Brian McGuigan for his first appearance since last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Dublin, in a bid to find a way through the oppositon defence, and they almost got themselves back in the game.

McFadden was sent off for a second booking, and O’Neill narrowed the gap to three.

And when Penrose created the opening to get a shot away, Durcan was equal to the task, saving with his foot and deflecting the ball onto the crossbar.

Donegal scorers: M Murphy (3f), C McFadden (2f) 0-3 each, R Kavanagh 0-2, R Bradley, K Lacey, P McBrearty, M McHugh 0-1 each

Tyrone scorers: Stephen O’Neill, J McMahon (2f) 0-2 each, C Clarke, C Gormley (45), D Carlin, Sean O’Neill; Mark Donnelly, M Penrose 0-1 each

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson, R Kavanagh, N Gallagher, David Walsh, R Bradley, M McHugh, P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden.

Subs: Declan Walsh for N McGee (3), M McElhinney for Gallagher (54), M O’Reilly for David Walsh (54), L McLoone for Bradley (68), C Toye for McBrearty (72)

Tyrone: P McConnell, A McCrory, C Clarke, D Carlin, R McMenamin, C Gormley, Sean O’Neill, J McMahon, C Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, P Harte, M Penrose, Stephen O’Neill, O Mulligan

Subs: R McNabb for Mulligan (49), B McGuigan for Mattie Donnelly (61), A Cassidy for Mark Donnelly (65), N McKenna for McMenamin (65)

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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