Tyrone might have three All-Ireland titles since their breakthrough on national stage but their record against Donegal since the first of those triumphs is symmetrical.
Since Mickey Harte’s side defeated Armagh to win a first All-Ireland in 2003, the sides’ records against one another remains an interesting one, with Donegal having won four of the last seven in the NFL and coming out on top in two of the three championship encounters, all of which were Ulster semi-finals played at Clones.
The Dr McKenna Cup edges the balance in Tyrone’s favour toward equilibrium, with four wins and a draw from the seven clashes. In all, Donegal and Tyrone have each won eight, drawn one and lost eight of the last 17 matches.
In terms of championship, in 2004, Tyrone were reigning All-Ireland champions but just three months after the tragic death of Cormac McAnallen, were surprisingly toppled by Donegal, for whom Colm McFadden scored 1-7 in a 1-11 to 0-9 win in the Ulster semi-final.
Four years later, Donegal made their way to the Monaghan venue with optimism having won the NFL Division One and bettered Armagh in the Ulster championship quarter-final. However, despite an enterprising start and an early Kevin Cassidy goal, Donegal were walloped 2-14 to 1-7, with Brian Dooher running the show.
This time last year, Tyrone raced into a four-point first half lead but Donegal came back to win 2-6 to 0-9 thanks to late goals from McFadden and Dermot Molloy on their way to a first Ulster championship in 19 years. But with Donegal entering the contest as slight favourites on Saturday, history shows it’s what happens on that day as the form book is not always adhered to.