Donegal made a significant statement in a six-point win over Tyrone that puts Rory Gallagher’s men jointly top of Division 1.
DONEGAL 0-12 TYRONE 0-6
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT SEAN MACCUMHAILL PARK
Donegal are rightly riding high and have conviction and confidence soaring, even if Gallagher did try to downplay things.
But as he spoke in the teeming Ballybofey rain, there was still no doubt among Donegal supporters that they’d witnessed a bright night from their side.
8,570 watched as Donegal extended their unbeaten League and Championship sequence to 17 games and they join sit alongside Tyrone and Dublin on seven points.
They winning of this game was in the second quarter, when Donegal went from being level at 0-4 apiece to being 0-9 to 0-4 ahead at half-time.
They kept an insipid Tyrone scoreless from the 20th second of the second half until stoppage time and not even the addition of nine minutes at the end could put this result in jeopardy.
Ciaran Thompson has been one of the springtime highlights for Donegal and the Glenties man scored two soaring points into the teeming Ballybofey drizzle to give Donegal the lead.
Sean Cavanagh posted the evening’s opening score in the second minute, but a purposeful Donegal were two ahead when Frank McGlynn broke through for a point.
The tensions always cut deep when these two collide and here was no different.
Peter Harte drew Tyrone level with a quick-fire brace, after Eoin McHugh and Rory Brennan traded points.
But Donegal were on a mission and, after Harte’s brace, Donegal responded in kind.
The Donegal flurry even included a rare point from Paddy McGrath; the corner-back delightfully curling between the sticks for only his second point in the Donegal colours.
Ryan McHugh had the freedom to soar into space and restored the Tir Chonaill lead and they were five in front by the time David Coldrick called for the ball at the interval.
Michael Murphy sailed over a free, hoofed into the sheets of rain that poured on the participants, and scores by Hugh McFadden and Thompson – his third of the contest – had Donegal 0-9 to 0-4 ahead at the changeover.
Donegal suffered a blow with Patrick McBrearty – who had been named to start – forced to sit out with a quad injury not sufficiently healed.
With Darach O’Connor, who sustained a fresh injury while playing for his club, Buncrana, in the All-County League on Sunday, also absent, it meant that Gallagher had to shuffle his pack.
Cavanagh cut the deficit with the first score of the second half, but substitute Cian Mulligan clipped a neat point and Ryan McHugh put Donegal six up.
It is plain that these two simply don’t like one another, to put it mildly – and their meetings after often tetchy, squabbly affairs.
Although this was a more open affair than last year’s chess-like contest, scores were scarce in the second half, but when McFadden landed his second of the night Donegal were home and hosed.
Justin McMahon spent most of the evening in Murphy’s airspace and was withdraw after getting booked in the 45th minute.
A shoving match, lasting a couple of minutes, ensued, but it failed to derail Donegal’s express from marching to its latest win of some standing.
DONEGAL: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath (0-1), Neil McGee, Eamonn Doherty; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Frank McGlynn (0-1), Paul Brennan; Michael Murphy (0-1f), Ciaran Thompson (0-3); Martin O’Reilly, Eoin McHugh (0-1), Ryan McHugh (0-2); Micheál Carroll, Hugh McFadden (0-2), Jamie Brennan. Subs: Cian Mulligan (0-1) for McGlynn (half-time), Mark McHugh for McGrath (56, black card), Martin McElhinney for McFadden (64), Michael Langan for P.Brennan (65), Brendan McCole for J.Brennan (70).
TYRONE: Mickey O’Neill; Cathal McShane, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Tiernan McCann, Justin McMahon, Rory Brennan (0-1); Colm Cavanagh, Declan McClure; Niall Sludden, Kieran McGeary, Peter Harte (0-2, 1f); Mark Bradley, Sean Cavanagh (0-3, 2f), Matthew Donnelly. Subs: Conor Meyler for McShane (half-time), Pádraig Hampsey for McClure (half-time), Aidan McCrory for McMahon (45), Ronan O’Neill for Brennan (53), Jonathan Munroe for McCarron (59).
REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath)