Donegal and Tyrone will have to do it all again in the Ulster U21 Championship after tonight’s gripping stalemate in Omagh.
Tyrone 0-14 Donegal 0-14
The teams were tied ten times throughout a tense night at Healy Park – and it’s back to Ballybofey for a replay next week after Lee Brennan’s ’45 brought Tyrone level for the final time.
Both teams will reflect on a night when they could have won it and Donegal will look particularly to 14 wides during normal time.
Declan Bonner’s team hit the front three times in the extra period, but Tyrone levelled each time with Michael O’Neill, David Mulgrew and, finally, Brennan, cancelling out scores by Michael Langan, Stephen McBrearty and Eoghan Ban Gallagher.
Tyrone could have snatched it right at the end of the hour, but Donegal goalkeeper Danny Rodgers thwarted Feargal Meenagh with a magnificent one-handed save.
From the follow-up, Ethan O’Donnell somehow managed to keep it out and Donegal held onto their lot to force the game to extra time – although they could have had things wrapped up long before then.
Donegal had a big goal chance in the 55th minute, but Niall Kelly brilliantly dispossessed Conor Morrisson at the vital moment, while Micheál Carroll was denied by Tyrone ‘keeper Benny Gallon.
Kelly’s intervention was key as Brennan’s free soon had the Red Hands in the lead, but Langan levelled the tie again.
Tyrone might be entitled to feel that they should have kicked on after hitting four-in-a-row between the 37th and 41st minutes with sub Conor McLernon causing Donegal all sorts of difficulty after his introduction.
With Langan finding his shooting boots, Donegal came back into it, but couldn’t get away from the stubborn Red Hands.
Brennan and Langan traded scorers in the final moments and the big crowed were treated to another intense 20 minutes.
Donegal had to line out without Jason McGee, as result of a shoulder injury sustained while playing for the Donegal senior team against Cavan,
Kieran Gillespie and Mark Coyle were also absent while Rory Carr wasn’t risked having only just got the all-clear from a long-standing shoulder problem in the last fortnight, although the St Eunan’s man came in for a brief cameo at the end of normal time.
Donegal led 0-5 to 0-4 at the break, but will have been ruing chances missed as they changed ends.
Michael O’Neill and Adam Neely swapped early points in a tepid start.
Donegal – who showed some seven changes to the team that was listed in the programme – were racking up the squandered chances and Tyrone led by two when Paul Donaghy and Liam Rafferty struck twice in as many minutes.
Donegal were level as Dáire Ó Baoill arched over and McBrearty converted a free.
Neely brilliantly found the range with the outside of the boot, although Brennan brought Tyrone back on level terms again with a free.
Donegal had the lead once more when, on the stroke of half-time, Langan atoned for a couple of earlier misses with a sweet point off his left foot.
These teams have become well accustomed to one another of late and it was clear here that the tension was rife in the Omagh air.
Donegal began the second half with an instant point as Langan sailed over from a ’45 after Jamie Brennan had raced through to see a shot fly out behind off a Tyrone defender.
There was to be no separating them. Not even extra time could throw up a winner and they’re back for another instalment in a week’s time.
Scorers – Tyrone: D Mulgrew, L Brennan (1f, 1 ‘45) 0-3 each, M O’Neill 0-2, P Donaghy, L Rafferty, N Donnelly, C McLernon, F Meenagh, J Harkin 0-1 each
Donegal: M Langan 0-6 (1 ’45, 3f), S McBrearty (2f) 0-3, A Neely (1f), 0-2, D O’Baoill, T McClenaghan, E Gallagher 0-1 each
Tyrone: Benny Gallon; Niall Kelly, Peter Teague, Conor Shields; Liam Rafferty, Michael McKernan, Feargal Meenagh; Ben O’Donnell, Ryan Loughran; Michael O’Neill, David Mulgrew, Nathan Donnelly; Lee Brennan, Brian Kennedy, Paul Donaghy. Subs: Conan McLernon for Kennedy (half-time), Johnny Harkin for O’Donnell (48), Emmett McNabb for Donaghy (53), Eoghan Murray for Rafferty (57), Ryan Coleman for Loughran (black card, 60), Ciaran McGlinchey for O’Neill (68), Jody McGlone for Donnelly (75).
Donegal: Danny Rodgers; Conor Morrison, Stephen McMenamin, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; Brendan McCole, Dáire Ó Baoill, Colm Kelly; Caolan McGonagle, Tony McClenaghan; Christy Fildara, Michael Langan, Micheál Carroll; Adam Neely, Jamie Brennan, Stephen McBrearty. Subs: Ethen O’Donnell for McLaughlin (42), Cian Mulligan for Neely (45), Rory Carr for McGonagle (58), Niall Friel for Carr (61), Danny Monagle for Mulligan (65), Mulligan for Brennan (68), Daniel Gallagher for Kelly (72), Carr for Langan (78).
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).