Donegal scored a goal and three points and kicked 18 wides, which goes someway to explaining the reason for their first round Ulster Championship defeat to Tyrone in Ballybofey yesterday.
Tyrone, on the other hand, were more frugal in attack as they were only wide of the posts a total of seven times in the course of the 60 minutes, while racking up a goal and nine.
The Red Hands may have been the better overall balanced outfit but if Donegal had shown a little more potency in attack, they could have been a lot closer than six points at the final blow of Donal Connolly’s final whistle.
Tyrone led by six points at half-time after showing greater economy in attack and worryingly opened up the Donegal defence on a number of occasions. Donegal, on the other hand, who enjoyed a good deal of possession, but were very wasteful in attack and shot nine wades and had a number of shots come back of the post.
Skipper Darach O’Connor had an attempt on goal from close range well saved by Sean Fox in the Tyrone goals.
In fairness to O’Connor, the angle was tight and a fisted point might have been the better option at the time just 15 minutes into the game and his team 1-2 to 0-1 down at the time.
In all, Donegal shot nine wides to Tyrone’s two in the opening 32 minutes. After tentative opening from both sides and three Donegal wides, O’ Connor raised the games first white flag on eight minutes, when he collected a Peter McLaughlin break from a Jack O’Brien long high ball into the Tyrone danger area.
With the Donegal defence doing well and very impressive in their tackling Tyrone did not get their side of the scoreboard up and running until the 12th minute. Daire Gallagher opened the Red Hand account when he got on the end of a sweeping move to split the Butt Hall End, posts.
The O’Neill County hit the front shortly afterwards courtesy of beautiful strike from Ruairi McGlone.
And there was a touch of good fortune for Tyrone’s next score, their goal. Midfielder Ronan Nugent up in attack from a tight enough angle, lobbed Paddy Byrne from 20 metres. That was on 14 minutes and they had added two more points from Conor McKenna and McGlone before Donegal landed their next score.
Conor Harkin converted from 20 metres out on the right hand side after a Tyrone defender picked the ball off the ground.
That was Donegal’s first score in 19 minutes, despite having loads of chances and a number of balls into the arms of keeper Fox. David Mulgrew kicked a massive point from way out on the right wing close to stand side line and five metres in from endline to send Tyrone in 1-5 to 0-2 in front at half-time.
Donegal did raise a gallop at the start of the second half again but again their finishing let them down. Cian Mulligan went close to getting the second half off to the perfect start but he pulled just wide of Fox’s right hand post within 15 second of the restart.
Aodhan McGinley, a half-time substitute and McGlone, the best footballer on the field, got the scoreboard clicking again when he pointed from Tyrone’s first attack of the second half, on 34 minutes.
Donegal were thrown a lifeline one minute later when O’Connor flicked a Mulligan shot on goal that dropped short to the Tyrone net.
But it proved a false dawn as Conor McKenna and Padraig McGirr restored Tyrone’s by the three quarter mark.
Mulligan, by far and away Donegal’s best player on the day, up in a attack hoisted over Donegal’s second score of the half and last score of the game with seven minutes remaining.
With the game over as a contest Che O’Donnell rounded off the scoring on the 60-minute mark for a comfortable six point victory for the Red Hands and place in the semi-final against either Derry or Down.
Donegal: Paddy Byrne; Jack Scally, Jack O’Brien, Eoin Scally; Cian Mulligan (0-1), Eamon McGrath, Colm Kelly; Conor O’Donnell, Peter McLaughlin; Conor McCormick, Lorcan Connor, Conor Harkin (0-1, 1f); Aidan Sweeney, Darach O’Connor (1-1), James Brennan.
Subs: Ciaran Thompson for C McCormick (24); Aodhan McGinley for J Brennan and Calum Gallagher for C Kelly (both h/t); Conor McCormick for L Conor (44).
Tyrone: Sean Fox; Colm Byrne; Ryys Quinn, Cillian McCann; Shea Hamill, Christopher Morris, Padraig McGirr (0-1); Ronan Nugent (1-0), Frank Burns; Lee Brennan, Ruairi McGlone (0-3), Michael Lynn; Conor McKenna (0-2), Daire Gallagher (0-1), David Mulgrew (0-1) Subs: Ryan McHugh for R. Nugent (50).; Sean Fox for C. Byrne (54 inj); Che O’Donnell (0-1) for M. Lynn (58); Tiarnan Donnelly for C. McKenna (60 mins).
Referee: Donal Connolly (Monaghan).
Man of the Match
Ruairi McGlone led the Tyrone attack well from centre half forward.
He scored three points and sprayed the ball around well and carved the openings for many of the Red Hands’ other scores in a true man of the match performance.
Cian Mulligan drove forward at every opportunity and scored a point and was unlucky not to net a goal in the opening play of the second half.
Tyrone probably had taken a grip and Donegal had already shown that they were going to struggle in front of the post before Ronan Nugent lobbed Paddy Byrne for the games only goal.
That was on 14 and a half minutes and it opened up a five-point gap between the sides for the first time.
Monaghan official Donal Connolly let the game flow and got all the big calls spot on in what was a good refereeing performance.
In fairness, both sets of players made it easy for him in what was a good fair contest.