Sunday’s meeting of Donegal and Tyrone in the Ulster championship will be their 20th meeting with Tyrone holding a 10-8 lead with one game drawn.
The sides met on consecutive years in 1979 and 1980 with contrasting results.
Donegal had a surprise win against Tyrone in the quarter-final in 1979 by 1-11 to 1-9. The Donegal Democrat reporter was almost in shock with the win!
“UNBELIEVABLE. That’s the only word to adequate describe this result and the manner of its achievement. It really was with a mixture of jubilation and amazement that Donegal supporters left Ballinascreen on Sunday having watched their side qualify for an Ulster Championship semi-final meeting with Derry on July 1st with a narrow but nonetheless convincing victory over fancied Tyrone.”
That was the opening paragraph of the Democrat report. Donegal went into the game after a poor National League, hammered by Fermanagh at Fintra.
It had been five years since - 1974 - since Donegal made it past the first round but they produced a stirring display. An opening point by Seamus Flynn was followed by three from Seamus Bonar but Tyrone hit back with a certain Mickey Harte (described in the report as will-o-the-wisp Mickey Harte) among the point scorers.
Three more points from Seamus Flynn had Donegal 0-7 to 0-4 ahead. Harte replied but then came the Donegal goal. An effort from Seamus Flynn hit the upright and the clearance was picked up by Martin Sweeney and he lobbed it back in to the goalmouth and to the amazement of all, Tyrone ‘keeper Liam Turbett allowed to sail over his head into the net.
Leading 1-7 to 0-5 at the break, Paul McGeehin pointed after good work by Martin Sweeney and Seamus Flynn. Noel McCole made a number of good saves before Oliver Hetherington fisted a point. Seamus Flynn added another but Mickey Harte countered. Michael Lafferty had a point but then tragedy struck when a shot from Kevin Toner was parried by Noel McCole but as the ball bounced in the goalmouth Michael Houston in trying to clear only succeeded in knocking the ball into his own net.
The goal reduced the lead to just two points and there was further tension when Brendan Donnelly left just a point in it with four minutes to go.
But Donegal refused to lie down and Eugene Sharkey, who had replaced Jim Brennan, restored Donegal’s two points advantage.
Donegal scorers - Seamus Flynn 0-5; Martin Sweeney 1-0; Seamus Bonar 0-3; Eugene Sharkey, Paul McGeehin, Michael Lafferty 0-1 each.
Tyrone scorers - Mickey Harte 0-3; K Toner 1-0; O Hetherington, K McGarvey 0-2 each; P Donnelly, B Donnelly 0-1 each.
Donegal: N McCole; M Houston, M Griffin, S Harpur; S Gavigan, F Ward, M Sweeney; B Dunleavy, M Lafferty; K Keeney, S Bonar, J Brennan; S Reilly, P McGeehin, S Flynn. Subs., E Sharkey for Brennan; A Harkin for Dunleavy.
Tyrone: L Turbett; P: King, G Taggart, K Hagan; K McCabe, F Rafferty, S Donnelly; J Devlin, K Toner; S Daly, B Donnelly, O Hetherington; K McGarvey, E Devlin, M Harte. Subs., P Ball for E Devlin; L Farrell for Hetherington; P: Donnelly for B Donnelly.
Minors well beaten
In the minor game Donegal were well beaten by Tyrone. They trailed 0-7 to 0-1 at half-time. The Donegal points were scored by Gerry Curran, Gerry Carr and Kieran Patton.
Donegal: J McGlinchey; E McIntyre, S Meehan, M McBrearty; M Shovlin, D Daly, B Tuohy; C Mulgrew, M Hegarty; G Curran, D Reid, T McDermott; T Kerr, J Blake, C Campbell. Subs., K Patton for Daly; T Begley for Campbell.
Tyrone: E Mullan; T Corr, G Carberry, H McNamee; F Lynch, M Haran, B Rafferty; J Lynch, B McKenna; B Quinn, M Bradley, P Kelly; E Coyne, M O’Neill, J Bayne. Subs., B O’Neill for B Quinn; C Morgan for Coyne; E Duffy for Bradley.
A year later and it was a reversal of fortunes, this time in Irvinestown. The seniors were given a lesson by Tyrone, while the minors secured victory over Antrim.
In the senior game, Tyrone steamrolled Donegal by 1-17 to 0-9. A goal by Austin Hamilton had Tyrone in control at half-time, leading by 1-9 to 0-4.
It was a game that is memorable from a personal viewpoint as it was the first time I had seen a player wearing white boots. Eugene McKenna, who had spent some time in the US, came on as a sub for Tyrone with white boots.
The game was memorable also for the only occasion that Paddy Carr played championship football for Donegal. Paddy went on to make his name in management in Leinster at club and county level.
Donegal scorers - Seamus Reilly 0-6; Seamus Bonar and Sandy Harpur 0-1 each.
Tyrone scorers - P Hetherington and M Harte 0-5 each; A Hamilton 1-0; P Donnelly 0-3; P Kerlin and D O’Hagan 0-2 each.
Donegal: N McCole; P Carr, M Griffin, C Murphy; B Dunleavy, M Carr, F Ward; M Lafferty, J Brennan; K Keeney, S Bonar, S Flynn; S Reilly, H McClafferty, S Harpur. Subs., Sean Gallagher for Flynn; S Gavigan for Murphy; E Sharkey for McClafferty.
Tyrone: B Campbell; K McGarvey, F Rafferty, D McKenna; K McCabe, S Donnelly, P: King; P Ball, P Kerlin; P Hetherington, G Taggart, D O’Hagan; Paul Donnelly, A Hamilton, M Harte. Subs., K McCrory for Rafferty; E McKenna for Ball; J Lynch for King.
Referee: Hugh Duggan.
In the curtain raiser in Irvinestown Donegal minors had a comfortable 1-9 to 0-6 victory over Antrim.
They raced into an 0-5 to 0-0 lead and before half-time a goal from Vincent Furey had them comfortably ahead by 1-7 to 0-1.
Donegal only managed two second half points but were able to hold on comfortably for a semi-final meeting with Derry.
Donegal scorers - V Furey 1-2; J Kennedy 0-3; P Carr 0-2; J McMullin, S Maguire 0-1 each.
Antrim scorers - S McKay, P McKeown, S Brady 0-2 each.
Donegal: T Cleary; S Bonner, P McTiernan, M Gallagher; P McDaid, T McDermott, B Tuohy; P Carr, S Meehan; J McMullin, J Kennedy, J Farren; S Maguire, A Molloy, V Furey. Sub., T Begley for Furey.
Antrim: C Brennan; D Armstrong, S McGurran, S McClenaghan; F Stewart, S Fleming, M McVeigh; M Drain, B Reid; S McKay, P McKeown, J McErlean; S Brady, T Lismore, M Birt. Subs., Terence McKeown for McVeigh; Frank Delargy for Lismore.
Referee: P Mulholland.