Tyrone 1-13 Donegal 0-12
Tyrone laid down a marker ahead of next May’s Ulster Chamopionship tie with a four-points win over Donegal at Healy Park.
The All-Ireland champions had skipper Michael Murphy sent off late in the first half, and finished the game with 13 men after Neil Gallagher was dismissed in the closing stages, both on second yellow cards.
It was Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan who emerged as the match-winner, hitting three points from long range frees and saving a Murphy penalty.
Stephen O’Neill grabbed the only goal of the game early in the second half as the Red Hands maintained their impressive start to the season with a third straight win.
Donegal almost had a goal in the opening 10 seconds when Rory Kavanagh collected Leo McLoone’s pass and smashed a shot against an upright.
But it was Tyrone who took the lead, Morgan drilling a ’45 between the posts, before Donegal levelled with a Colm McFadden free.
Tyrone were also denied by the woodwork, Conor McAliskey sending a shot against an upright.
As Tyrone settled into the contest with some patient build-up play, Mark Donnelly and Sean Cavanagh both landed points to open up a two points lead.
But Kavanagh, Anthony Thompson and Ross Wherity stepped up their game for the All-Ireland champions, and they got themselves right back into the game.
Michael Murphy was the man who delivered the scores, hitting a couple of gems from play and stroking a ’45 between ht posts to tie it up at 0-4 each with 26 minutes played.
The Red Hands responded with another Morgan point, this time from a 47 metre free, and Ronan McNamee sliced over a wonderful score to push them two ahead.
But Donegal were awarded a penalty in the final minute of the half, Ryan McKenna penalised for a foul on Wherity.
It all went wrong for Footballer of the Year Murphy, who had his kick superbly saved by Morgan, and moments later, as a melee ensued, he was sent off after receiving a second yellow card.
Tyrone led by 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time, and tightened their grip on the game with a Stephen O’Neill goal five minutes after the restart.
He collected Ryan McKenna’s cross at the far post and sent in an angle shot which Neil McGee could only deflect into the net as he desperately attempted a block.
Morgan stepped up again to plant another long range free between the posts, and when O’Neill stroked over a point, th Red Hands led by five with just 10 minutes of the second half played.
The loss of Murphy was being sorely felt by a Donegal side forced onto the back foot for sustained spells.
They did manage points on the breakaway from McFadden and substitute Paddy McBrearty.
And they did have goal chance when Wherity got in behind his marker, but his shot was cleared off the line by Conor Clarke
McFadden brought his tally to five, all from frees, but Donegal were reduced to 13 men three minutes from the end when Neil Gallagher picked up a second yellow card.
And Morgan clinched the man of the match award with a stunning late save from McFadden.
S O’Neill 1-2 (0-1f), N Morgan 0-3 (2f, 1 ’45), P Harte (2f), S Cavanagh 0-2 each, R McKenna, Joe McMahon, R McNamee, Mark Donnelly 0-1 each.
C McFadden 0-5 (5f), M Murphy 0-3 (1 ’45), L McLoone, A Thompson, R Wherity, P McBrearty 0-1 each.
Tyrone: N Morgan, A McCrory, C Clarke, Justin McMahon, R McKenna, Joe McMahon, R McNamee, M Murphy, C Cavanagh, P McNeice, P Harte, Mattie Donnelly, C McAliskey, S O’Neill, Mark Donnelly.
Subs: M Penrose for McAliskey (30), A Cassidy for Murphy (h-t), C Cavanagh for McNeice (55), C Gormley for Justin McMahon (62), R O’Neill for Mark Donnelly (62)
Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee, A Thompson, F McGlynn, D Walsh, M McHugh, L McLoone, R Bradley, C McFadden, M Mur;phy, P McBrearty.
Subs: P McBrearty for McElhinney (h-t), R McHugh for Bradley (47), D Molloy for M McHugh (56)
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).