Allianz FL D1: Donegal defeat Tyrone
Allianz Football League Division One
DONEGAL 2-17 TYRONE 2-13
By Chris McNulty at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey
Goals early in both halves fired Donegal to a useful Division One win over old foes Tyrone.
In the strange surrounds of an empty Sean Mac Cumhaill Park, Donegal eased their relegation worries with a four-point success.
Peadar Mogan and Jamie Brennan netted for Declan Bonner’s men, who took the spoils in a game that also served as a prelude to an Ulster Championship showdown in 14 days’ time.
Just seven minutes in, Donegal had the ball in the net. Mogan played a one-two with Niall O’Donnell and the nifty footwork of the St Naul’s man left three Tyrone players with the stars spinning. A few strides later, Mogan crashed past Niall Morgan, the Tyrone goalkeeper.
It was the perfect start for Donegal, whose relegation fears had lingered over the seven-and-a-half-month hiatus. Mogan’s superb strike gave Donegal a neat foothold.
Jamie Brennan’s pair of early points had Donegal in front while Michael Murphy elected against calling a ‘mark’ when he took receipt of Hugh McFadden’s angled delivery.
Tyrone, though, drew level through a controversial penalty. Stephen McMenamin was adjudged to have fouled Conor McKenna and, with Donegal livid about the decision, Darren McCurry dispatched the spot kick beyond Shaun Patton.
McKenna was in for his first Tyrone start, the Eglish man having recently returned to the O’Neill County after ending his six-year stint with Essendon in the AFL.
Donegal were without Patrick McBrearty, who limped out of a recent challenge game against Roscommon, and Michael Langan and Odhrán McFadden-Ferry were other notable absentees from the home squad.
O’Donnell, looking well at home in Donegal’s number 11 shirt, boomed over to inch his side ahead at the water break.
Donegal landed four points in a rapid-fire three minutes as Ryan McHugh, with a brace, Ciaran Thompson, from a free, and O’Donnell added swiftly to the tally.
After the changeover, when Donegal led 1-9 to 1-6, Kieran McGeary and McCurry narrowed the margin.
Just when Tyrone were eyeing up a big moment of their own, Brennan buckled Donegal into the driving seat. Michael Murphy sent Brennan on his way and the Bundoran flier finished brilliantly to the bottom corner.
Down long-term injury victim Cathal McShane, Tyrone were minus Peter Harte here, but they still stayed within touch when Morgan came forward to sail over a long-range free.
McHugh landed a beauty from play before Murphy converted a 50m free to open up a six-point lead.
Caolan McGonigle, who had a fine game in the engine room, got in on the act with an excellent point, but there was a needless late sweat for Donegal when McKenna punished some sloppy play with a late goal for the visitors.
Tyrone finished with 13 men as Kieran McGeary and Rory Brennan both saw red in the closing stages.
These swords will cross again in a fortnight’s time, in the furnace of the Ulster SFC.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy 0-6 (5fs), Jamie Brennan 1-2, Peadar Mogan 1-0, Ryan McHugh 0-3, Niall O’Donnell, Ciarán Thompson (2f) 0-2 each, Caolan McGonagle, Andrew McClean 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tyrone: Darren McCurry (1-0 pen, 1f), Conor McKenna 1-2 each, Liam Rafferty 0-2, Kieran McGeary, Michael McKernan (m), Frank Burns (m), Niall Morgan (f), Conall McCann (m), Mattie Donnelly, David Mulgrew 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Neil McGee, Stephen McMenamin; Ryan McHugh, Paul Brennan, Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí; Hugh McFadden, Caolan McGonigle; Peadar Mogan, Niall O’Donnell, Ciaran Thompson; Jamie Brennan, Michael Murphy, Oisin Gallen.
Subs: Andrew McClean for Gallen (45), Jason McGee for McFadden (55), Daire Ó Baoill for Mac Ceallabhuí (60), Paddy McGrath for P.Brennan (64), Caolan Ward for Gallagher (70+2).
TYRONE: Niall Morgan; Liam Rafferty, Ronan McNamee, Rory Brennan; Tiernan McCann, Kieran McGeary, Michael McKernan; Pádraig Hampsey, Frank Burns; Mattie Donnelly, Conor McKenna, Darren McCurry; Niall Sludden, Conall McCann, Conor Meyler.
Subs: David Mulgrew for Sludden (half-time), Michael O’Neill for Burns (47), Ronan O’Neil for C.McCann (48), Ben McDonnell for Hampsey (61).
REFEREE: Jerome Henry (Mayo).