Donegal U-17s falter in second half as they go down narrowly to Tyrone in Strabane

Gerry McLaughlin


Gerry McLaughlin


Jim McGuigan U-17 Cup

A faltering second half display in which they only scored one point in the final 26 minutes saw Donegal deservedly lose to a revitalised Tyrone side, in windy conditions in Strabane.

Tyrone 1-11
Donegal 1-9

The wind-assisted young Red Hands roared back into a game where they were trailing by 1-8 to 1-3 four minutes into the second half to clinch a fine victory for a team that was minus their Omagh CBS MacRory contingent.
Tyrone's three second half subs Ethan Neill, Sean Connelly and Luke Donnelly all weighed in with points against a Donegal side who made far too many basic errors.
And their cause was not helped when star forward Senan Rooney had to go off in the 45th minute with a leg injury.
He had a fine first half, and the attack looked much less potent in his absence.
But credit to Tyrone for digging deep and getting those vital second half scores from Neill, Connelly and Donnelly.
Towering impressive full-forward Mark Devlin also weighed in and full-back Michael Quinn put the Tyrone lads into a 1-9 to 1-8 lead four minutes from time.
Donegal tried hard to respond in an at times testy affair, but did not have the power up front.
Donegal were well worth their half-time lead of 1-6 to 1-3, but would have needed a few more points to the good, given their considerable wind advantage.
Tyrone got a great start after finding the net when Devlin’s rasping shot cannoned off the Tir Conaill crossbar and into the Donegal net to put Tyrone ahead by 1-0 to 0-2 in the 5th minute after Donegal had opened the scoring through two well struck points from flame-haired marksman Johnny McGroddy.
Donegal struck back with a goal of their own. Senan Rooney picked out Jamie Grant deep in Red Hand territory. Grant went at the defence like a rocket and went down heavily after a despairing Tyrone tackle and Cavan referee Pat Clarke pointed to the spot.
McGroddy cooly slotted the resultant penalty low to the net, but Tyrone’s Shay Daly levelled matters with a point.
That set the pattern for a tightly contested opening half.
Rooney 0-2 and Eoin Dowling with two superb efforts stretched Donegal’s lead to 1-6 to 1-2 as half-time beckoned.
Mark Devlin got the last point of the half to leave Donegal leading by 1-6 to 1-3.
The breeze dropped well for the first ten minutes of the second half with Tir Conail taking full advantage and generally dominating the play.
Keeper Daithi Roberts landed the first of his two points, from a 45, and McGroddy made it 1-8 to 1-3 by the 34th minute.
It looked good for Donegal, but three factors aided Tyrone’s considerable comeback.
The breeze freshened in favour of the young Red Hands; subs Neill and Connelly had a big impact and Donegal lost Rooney, who seemed to be struggling with a leg injury.
Odhran McGrath was on target for Tyrone, Neill and Connelly found the range and it was a different game.
Donegal were pinned in their own half for long periods and could not break out of an increasing physically powerful Tyrone stranglehold as they landed those vital points.
And they could only manage one point from play in that disjointed second-half.

TYRONE: Stephen McMenamin; Conor Cuddy, Michael Quinn (0-1), Micheal McCann; Aran McGrath, Niall Devlin, James Donaghy, Ruairi Campbell (0-1), Packie Quinn, Shay Duffy (0-2), Conor McGillion; Odhran McGrath, Mark Devlin (1-1), Ronan McHugh (0-2). Subs: Ethan Neill (0-2) for Packie Quinn, Sean Connelly (0-1) for Conor McGillion (36), Shay Quinn for Ronan McHugh, Luke Donnelly (0-1) for Mark Devlin, S P McKillion for James Donaghy (57),

DONEGAL: Daithi Roberts (0-2f), Conor Roarty, Kieran Tobin, Ryan McShane; Conor Coyle, Jack Gallagher, Richard O’Rourke; Ciaran Moore, Kaelan Dunleavy; Eoin Dowling (0-2), Sean Rooney (0-2), Johnny McGroddy (1-3); Carlos O’Reilly, Paul O’Hare, Jamie Grant. Subs: Eric Carr for Senan Rooney (45), Luke Doherty for Paul O’Hare (54).

REFEREE: Pat Clarke (Cavan)