IN ULSTER trenches rarely experienced before, Donegal saw off Tyrone in a real battle.
Donegal 1-13 Tyrone 1-11
By Chris McNulty at Sean Mac Cumhaill Park. Pictures by Evan Logan
The quest for Donegal’s first Ulster three-in-a-row remains alive after an afternoon for the ages as the two old foes went to war.
On a pitch that was like glue beneath grey skies and in ceaseless rainfall, the backdrop to the do-or-die tussle seemed oddly perfect.
The leaves at Drumboe have never been as rusty on a Championship day, but it’s Donegal who move on to the semi-finals, spurred by Michael Langan’s first-half goal, Ciarán Thompson’s seven points and a bit of good fortune.
Darragh Canavan rattled the River End net for a 42nd minute goal that rocked Donegal – who were two-up at the interval.
In the greasy conditions, Eoghan Ban Gallagher was unable to hold onto a short pass from his goalkeeper, Shaun Patton. Canavan, a son of Tyrone legend Peter Canavan, picked the pocket and coolly finished.
Donegal, as they had done in the first period, shook their heads clear to score the next four points.
Ten minutes from the end, Stephen McMenamin hacked off the goal line as Conor McKenna seemed set to net for the visitors after Richard Donnelly’s effort dropped short.
When Peter Harte equalised seconds later there was nothing between them heading down the home stretch,
Thompson’s seventh of the afternoon lifted the lid again before Oisin Gallen, on as a substitute, added the insurance point that was only so as Donegal endured the kitchen sink being flung at them.
Before they broke for water midway through the first half, Donegal had just a point on the board, but they hit a quick fire 1-2 to move in front.
The goal was engineered by a stunning kick-out from Shaun Patton’s. A perfectly-placed kick into the run of Peadar Mogan on the opposite ’45 belied the terrible conditions into which he was aiming.
Mogan waited for the right moment before off-loaded to Langan. The St Michael’s man, with Brian Kennedy among those closing hard, had work to do, but he crashed high past Niall Morgan. It was at this moment that the absence of supporters was most missed.
Langan, who has been struggling with an injury lately, had fired over a splendid points just moments earlier.
The goal drew Donegal level and Jamie Brennan squeezed them in front before Paul Brennan got in on the act.
Late in the half, Paul Brennan might have been fortunate to have only yellow flashed after a clash with Michael McKernan, but the unfortunate theatrics of the Tyrone player hardly helped their cause.
McCurry posted Tyrone’s first score in 14 minuets but, with the last kick of the half, Thompson put Donegal 1-5 to 0-6 ahead.
It was the 11th minute when Thompson curled over a free, after the home side posted three wides in a busy beginning, to get his team off the mark.
Niall Morgan put a second-minute free wide of the mark, but the reprieve was short-lived as McCurry intercepted Shaun Patton’s kick-out – intended for Ulster SFC debutant Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí – to open the scoring.
Conor McKenna has made quite the impression since returning from a seven-year spell at Australian Rules club Essendon. McKenna had the venom of McGee for company here and the Eglish man shrilled into the Ballybofey sky after popping over a 15th minute free.
At the water break, Donegal looked in trouble as a Morgan free had Tyrone 0-5 to 0-1 in front, but Donegal hit the front in soaking conditions.
Patrick McBrearty, who has been struggling with a quad injury since a challenge game against Roscommon last month, was named in the team, but Bonner opted to hold the Kilcar ace in reserve.
Tyrone failed in a late bid to clear defender Rory Brennan cleared from a 12-week ban. Brennan was sent off in the League game between the two a fortnight ago when he put a hand on referee Jerome Henry.
Tyrone took their appeal all the way to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA), who ruled that the suspension stand.
The enforced withdrawal of Neil McGee to a leg injury at half-time was a blow for Donegal and Canavan’s goal rocked ten to the core.
Donegal’s response was perfect, though.
Without McBrearty and with McGee having been withdrawn for the second half, Donegal have every reason to advance with real optimism into the winter.
Scorers: Donegal – Ciarán Thompson (5f) 0-7, Michael Langan 1-12, Jamie Brennan 0-2, Paul Brennan, Oisin Gallen 0-1 each
Tyrone: Darragh Canavan 1-1, Darren McCurry (1f) 0-3, Mark Bradley 0-2, Mattie Donnelly, Niall Morgan (f), Conor McKenna (f), Frank Burns, Peter Harte 0-1 each
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Stephen McMenamin, Neil McGee, Eoghan Bán Gallagher; Ryan McHugh, Paul Brennan, Peadar Mogan; Hugh McFadden, Caolan McGonigle; Ciarán Thompson, Niall O’Donnell, Michael Langan; Jeaic Mac Ceallabhui, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan. Subs: Eoin McHugh for Mac Ceallabhuí (23), Andrew McClean for McGee (half-time), Oisin Gallen for O’Donnell (44), Paddy McGrath for P.Brennan (53), Jason McGee for McGonigle (69).
Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Liam Rafferty, Ronan McNamee, Frank Burns; Tiernan McCann, Michael O’Neill, Michael McKiernan; Brian Kennedy, Matthew Donnelly; Kieran McGeary, Conor McKenna, Conor Meyler; Darren McCurry, Peter Harte, Darragh Canavan. Subs: Mark Bradley for McCurry (50), Richard Donnelly for O’Neill (53), Pádraig Hampsey for Kennedy (55), Niall Sludden for Canavan (63).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).Tags: