Peter Campbell @dgldemocrat

Donegal had their chances but in the end the pacier Tyrone became Ulster champions after a dour Ulster final in St. Tiernach's Park, Clones.

Donegal . . . . 0-11

Tyrone . . . . . 0-13

The capacity crowd of 33, 433 were hardly entertained as both teams tried to play possession football. Donegal just didn't have the punch to get through the Tyrone defence while at the other end, Tyrone were able to get the scores in the final minutes.

Donegal led twice with a minute to go but when six minutes of added time was notified, the game was still in the melting point. Christy Toye had got the last Donegal point to leave it 0-11 to 0-10, and seconds into added time, Toye set up his clubmate Colm McFadden, but the ball was dropped and a big chance to open the gap to two was gone.

Sean Cavanagh hit the equaliser from near the sideline on 72 minutes, before Ryan McHugh won a free some 50m from goal. Michael Murphy had earlier found the range from almost the same spot after Christy Toye was fouled, but this time the wind had an effect and his effort tailed off to the left.

With almost five minutes of added time on the clock Peter Harte lofted Tyrone back into the lead, the first time they were in front from the 13th minute and it was to prove the clincher. Almost immediately Kieran McGeary added another to seal the win.

In truth, Tyrone were slightly the better side. They were a little more adventurous than Donegal and they would have been bitterly disappointed if they had left it behind, having hit 16 wides.

There were mitigating factors for the poor football on view, with very muggy conditions sapping energy, but one of the main talking points by people as they left the ground was the way the game is being played at the moment.


In a game of cat and mouse, Donegal took a little time to get their game going and for the first quarter, it looked as if Tyrone had their measure. It wasn't overly pretty, with both sides getting men behind the ball.

Tyrone had the opening two points inside ten minutes, from 'keeper Morgan and a fine effort from Cathal McShane.

But gradually Donegal got their shooting boots (they had four wides inside five minutes) with Patrick McBrearty firing over a free after Ryan McHugh was fouled. Michael Murphy levelled from a '45' after an Eoin McHugh effort was half blocked.

Then Ryan McHugh made a significant contribution with two magnificent points to edge Donegal ahead. Niall Sludden pulled one back when he found space in front of the Donegal goal, but Ryan McHugh added his third from distance.

Cathal McCarron, like Sludden before him, got a lot of space to pull Tyrone back within one again on 22 minutes.

But in the final part of the opening half, Donegal added two more points, one a great effort from distance from Odhrán Mac Niallais and the other from a McBrearty free after Ryan McHugh was fouled.

Before half-time, while there were no more scores, there was plenty of controversy as Tyrone lost two players to black cards, Matthew Donnelly after a high challenge on Eoin McHugh (he was lucky not to see red) and Cathal McShane for a trip. Tyrone had chances, but by the end of the half they had amassed nine wides to Donegal six.

Half-time: Donegal 0-7, Tyrone 0-4.

Donegal opened the gap to four within 13 seconds of the restart, Michael Murphy setting up Patrick McBrearty. But they went 21 minutes before another scored, by which time Tyone were level.

The sides were level four times between then and the final minutes with Sean Cavanagh stepping up to the plate for the eventual winners.

It will be a bitter pill for many of the Donegal side, losing their third final, but they have questions for themselves.

Donegal: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamon McGee; Ciaran Gillespie, Ryan McHugh (0-3), Frank McGlynn; Michael Murphy (0-2,f,'45'), Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-2); Eoin McHugh, Karl Lacey, Martin O'Reilly; Patrick McBrearty (0-3,2f), Rory Kavanagh, Anthony Thompson. Subs., Martin McElhinney for Kavanagh 44; Mark McHugh for Thompson 55; Christy Toye (0-1) for McGlynn 63; Eoghan Ban Gallagher for Gillespie; Anthony Thompson for E McHugh, both 66.

Tyrone: Niall Morgan (0-2,2f); Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron (0-1); Tiernan McCann, Justin McMahon, Peter Harte (0-2); Colm Cavanagh, Matthew Donnelly; Cathal McShane (0-1), Niall Sludden (0-1), Ronan McNabb; Connor McAliskey, Sean Cavanagh (0-3), Ronan O'Neill. Subs., Rory Brennan (0-1) for M Donnelly, black 36; Mark Bradley for McShane, black 37; Jonathan Munroe for R O'Neill 55; Darren McCurry (0-1) for McAliskey 63; Kieran McGeary (0-1) for McMahon 70.

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)