Ulster SFC semi-final: Tyrone defeat 14-man Donegal
Ulster SFC semi-final
TYRONE: 0-23 DONEGAL: 1-14
By Declan Bogue at Brewster Park
Tyrone never had a greater chance to beat Donegal than they were given in Brewster Park.
With Neil McGee coming off after five minutes injured and Michael Murphy black and red-carded before the break, they were just a point up at the second water break after Caolan McGonigle’s goal kept Donegal in contention.
This, despite a missed Donegal penalty.
When Ciaran Thompson was barrelling through, he was taken out with a high challenge by Rory Brennan. Referee Joe McQuillan adjudged it to have been a clear goal-scoring opportunity and awarded the penalty – correctly – but black carded Brennan.
Murphy drilled the penalty low, but it shaved off the outside of the left upright and Tyrone could breathe again.
Three minutes later, there looked to be an even bigger call with Michael Langan upended by Frank Burns while taking a shot, but McQuillan waved play on.
A minute before half-time, disaster struck for Donegal. A ball broke down and when Murphy went to draw on it, he hit nothing but McGeary’s legs, earning him a black card for a trip, and with it a red.
From there, Tyrone had too many men on the field, Darren McCurry in form in racking up seven scores while Conor Meyler did an incredible job in rubbing Ryan McHugh completely out of the picture.
Substitutes Tiernan McCann and Conor McKenna added to the sense that this could be a serious Tyrone team in the making.
During the second half, their key players in previous years showed a level of form that had been absent during the league. With Conor McKenna and Cathal McShane coming on, former captain Matthew Donnelly could drop deeper and he the broke a series of defensive lines with his strength.
Tiernan McCann came on and helped himself to three points from play, each of them a reward for clever thinking.
With Monaghan now to face in the Ulster final, there is the possibility that the Ulster Council could stage it in Croke Park in order to get more spectators in.
If that is the case, Tyrone joint manager Feargal Logan is happy.
“One, you want people at football, two, I think Clones is still in Monaghan,” he said.
“At the end of the day, not that it has been a barrier in the past, we have always travelled to Clones and it stood everybody well. But if it was to be in Croke Park, then so be it.”
Scorers for Tyrone: D McCurry (0-7, 3 frees), K McGeary, N Sludden, T McCann (0-3 each), M Donnelly (0-2), P Harte, C Meyler, C McKenna, F Burns (0-1 each), C McShane (0-1 free)
TYRONE: N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; R Brennan, F Burns, P Harte; B Kennedy, C Kilpatrick; K McGeary, M O’Neill, C Meyler; D McCurry, M Donnelly, N Sludden
Subs: T McCann for Brennan (HT), C McKenna for Kilpatrick (46 mins), B McDonnell for Kennedy (52 mins), C McShane for M O’Neill (62 mins), N Kelly for McKernan (67 mins)
DONEGAL: S Patton; B McCole, N McGee, E Ban Gallagher; R McHugh, O McFadden-Ferry, P Mogan; H McFadden, C McGonigle; C Thompson, N O’Donnell, M Langan; P McBrearty, M Murphy, J Brennan
Subs: S McMenamin for McGee (5 mins), P Brennan for McFadden-Ferry (45 mins), O MacNiallais for H McFadden (46 mins), E McHugh for J Brennan (62 mins), A McClean for Mogan (70 mins)
Red card: Murphy (34 mins)
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)