Donegal crowned champs after thrilling McKenna Cup final

Tyrone 1-12 Donegal 1-16: Donegal and Tyrone threw the play-books out the window and served up an entertaining Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup final.

Donegal crowned champs after thrilling McKenna Cup final

By Orla BannonTyrone 1-12 Donegal 1-16: Donegal and Tyrone threw the play-books out the window and served up an entertaining Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup final, with Donegal's strong final quarter enough to end Tyrone's six-year domination of the competition.

There was an element of shadow-boxing about this one in the Athletic Grounds with a vital Allianz League Division One match at Healy Park on March 3. Both teams fielded very inexperienced line-ups and the game was all the better for it in a fast-paced, open and enjoyable first half, with Odhran MacNiallais superb.

Both camps showed an ambition to win, unleashing the heavy artillery in the second half with Neil McGee making his first appearance of 2018 and Michael Murphy coming scoring 0-3 in the last quarter.

Tyrone brought on Peter Harte, Niall Sludden and Mattie Donnelly, who was sent-off in the last minute of normal time after picking up a second yellow card.

Tyrone only led once the game, after Harry Loughran's seventh-minute goal, and hit just two points in the closing 29 minutes.

In front of 4,287, Daire O Baoill struck the first point after 30 seconds and on two occasions early on, Tyrone drew level through Conall McCann and Kieran McGeary before Harry Loughran's sidefoot finish from close range put Tyrone in front for the only time, at 1-2 to 0-4, after seven minutes.

Donegal were playing with a lot of exuberance and with Ciaran Thompson giving Aidan McCrory the runaround, they had plenty of scoring opportunities.

Thompson's quick ball into Martin McElhinney resulted in a Donegal goal after 10 minutes, the latter's deft right-footed dink putting them 1-4 to 1-2 ahead.

They briefly stretched the lead to five, through Odhran MacNiallais, Marty Reilly (free) and Paul Brennan, but Tyrone were better in the second quarter and stayed in touch.

Donegal's Martin McElhinney with Tyrone's Cathal McCarron. Pic: INPHO/Jonathan Porter
Donegal's Martin McElhinney with Tyrone's Cathal McCarron. Pic: INPHO/Jonathan Porter

Darren McCurry and Ronan O'Neill started to get their hands on the ball and Cathal McCarron bounced forward for a lovely left-footed point to reduce the deficit to a very manageable 1-9 to 1-6 at the break.

The fun didn't last long once the big hitters arrived in the second half and the game slowed down into a more attritional, dogged affair.

Mattie Donnelly, Peter Harte, Niall Sludden and Cathal McShane came on for Tyrone and the holders outscored Donegal by four points to one in the opening 10 minutes after the restart, Ronan O'Neill with three of them.

Yet every time Tyrone drew level, Donegal responded. Niall O'Donnell, one of their new forwards, kicked 0-3 from play as the game came back to life after a subdued third quarter.

Donegal lost by 12 points to Tyrone in last year's championship and while most of these young players weren't involved, they played with an intent that 2018 will be different.

Murphy came on for the last half an hour and almost immediately scored his first point of 2018, going around Paudie Hampsey to dispatch a skyscraper between the posts.

Keen to get some game-time into rusty legs before next week's relegation battle with Kildare, Bonner brought Neil McGee on for his first appearance of the year in the 70th minute at start of five minutes' stoppage time.

Paul Brennan and Murphy added late points to lift the first piece of silverware under Declan Bonner's reign.

Martin McElhinney chips Tyrone goalkeeper Mickey O'Neill to score a goal. Pic: INPHO/Jonathan Porter
Martin McElhinney chips Tyrone goalkeeper Mickey O'Neill to score a goal. Pic: INPHO/Jonathan Porter

Scorers for Tyrone: R O'Neill 0-6 (5f), H Loughran 1-1, C McCarron, K McGeary, C McCann, D McClure, D McCurry 0-1 each

Scorers for Donegal: M McElhinney 1-1, N O'Donnell 0-3, M Murphy 0-3 (2f), M Reilly 0-2 (1f), D O Baoill, P Brennan 0-2 each, F McGlynn, O MacNiallais, C Thompson 0-1 each

Tyrone: M O'Neill; A McCrory, C McCarron, B Burns; M Cassidy, R McNabb, K McGeary; R McNamee, B McDonnell; D McClure, H Loughran, C McCann; D McCurry, R McHugh, R O'Neill

Subs: C McShane for Cassidy (41), M Donnelly for McClure (41), P Harte for McGeary (42), HP McGeary for McCrory (50), C Meyler for McDonnell (54), N Sludden for Loughran (60)

Donegal: S Patton; S McMenamin, C Morrison, F McGlynn; E Doherty, P Brennan, D O Baoill; O MacNiallais, H McFadden; C Thompson, M McElhinney, M McHugh; C McGonigle, S McBrearty, M Reilly

Subs: N O'Donnell for McBrearty (25), M Murphy for McElhinney (42), N Mullins for Reilly (46), C Ward for McGlynn (53), B McCole for McGonigle (63), N McGee for Doherty (70)

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

More in this section

CourtsGaaHeathrowPlace: Healy ParkPerson: Orla BannonTyronePerson: Odhran MacNiallaisPerson: Neil McGeePerson: Michael MurphyPerson: TyronePerson: Peter HartePerson: Niall SluddenPerson: Mattie DonnellyPerson: Harry LoughranPerson: Daire Ó BaoillPerson: Conall McCannPerson: Kieran McGearyPerson: Ciaran ThompsonPerson: Aidan McCroryPerson: ThompsonPerson: Martin McElhinneyPerson: DonegalPerson: Marty ReillyPerson: Paul BrennanPerson: DonegalTyroneMcKennaCupMartinPerson: Darren McCurryPerson: Ronan O'NeillPerson: Cathal McCarronPerson: Cathal McShanePerson: Niall O'DonnellPerson: MurphyPerson: Paudie HampseyPerson: KeenPerson: BonnerPerson: Declan BonnerPerson: DonegalTyroneMcKennaCupMartinMcElhinneyGoal17Feb2018_large.jpgPerson: R O'NeillPerson: H LoughranPerson: C McCarronPerson: K McGearyPerson: C McCannPerson: D McClurePerson: D McCurryPerson: M McElhinneyPerson: N O'DonnellPerson: M MurphyPerson: M ReillyPerson: DPerson: O BaoillPerson: P BrennanPerson: F McGlynnPerson: O MacNiallaisPerson: C ThompsonPerson: M O'NeillPerson: A McCroryPerson: B BurnsPerson: M CassidyPerson: R McNabbPerson: R McNameePerson: B McDonnellPerson: R McHughPerson: C McShanePerson: CassidyPerson: M DonnellyPerson: McClurePerson: P HartePerson: McGearyPerson: HP McGearyPerson: McCroryPerson: C MeylerPerson: McDonnellPerson: N SluddenPerson: LoughranPerson: S PattonPerson: S McMenaminPerson: C MorrisonPerson: E DohertyPerson: D O BaoillPerson: H McFaddenPerson: M McHughPerson: C McGoniglePerson: S McBreartyPerson: McBreartyPerson: McElhinneyPerson: N MullinsPerson: ReillyPerson: C WardEvent: McKenna Cup finalEvent: Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup finalOrganisation: DonegalOrganisation: TyroneOrganisation: Allianz LeagueOrganisation: Kildare
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