Donegal suffered their first defeat of the Ulster Minor Football League as they let a six-point first half lead slip to lose by six to Tyrone in Ballybofey on Saturday.
This was a disappointing outcome and disappointing result at the end of a game that promised so much early on when they took to the fight to the Tyrone boys.
But a Tyrone goal before half-time undid all their early good work and the promise shown in the opening exchanges evaporated in the second half as the winner’s took complete control.
Donegal led by two points at the break 1-4 to 1-2 after giving away a soft goal on the stroke of half-time.
Tyrone’s wing forward Philip Donnelly capitalising on a mistake by Donegal keeper Sean McClafferty, to punch to an empty net with literally the last action of the first half.
Donegal opened at a breath taking pace and had three points on the board inside four minutes with Aodhan McGinley, Eoin McHugh and Oisin Carr.
And with Ryan McHugh dictating from centre half halfback, Darragh Mulgrew raiding on the wings and driving forward at every opportunity and Aodhan McGinley, John McGarvey and Eoin McHugh creating space up front Donegal were dominating at this stage.
They six up 1-3 to 0-0 score up by the 11 th minute mark when Eoin McHugh polished off a sweeping move which began with Mark McHugh turning over in midfield laying off to Mulgrew who went on a surging run before setting up McHugh.
Tyrone finally got off the mark when Ruairi Sludden split the river end posts. That was on 15 minutes and while they enjoyed a good deal more possession they had only one more score a Sean Hackett 30-metre free until Donnelly took full advantage of McClafferty’s indecision to reduce the margin to two points.
Ryan McHugh, from a 35-metre free, scored Donegal’s only point of the second quarter.
Both sides traded points in the opening minutes of the second half, before the Red Hand’s hit five points in a row from Sean Molloy, Sean Hackett, Peter McKenna and Philip Donnelly.
Leading 1-8 to 1-5 by the three quarter-mark they added further points from Barry Kavanagh, Bradley and Ruairi McGloin to extend their advantage out to six points.
Ryan McHugh converted from close range on the hour mark for Donegal’s second point of the half, before Bradley rounded off the scoring for the winners.
Donegal who defeated Fermanagh in their opening game must now defeat Derry next weekend in Celtic Park if they are to make the knock-out stages. Tyrone with three wins over Derry, Antrim and Donegal have their place booked in the last four.
Worringly from a Donegal point too going forward that Tyrone were short their two St. Michael’s, Enniskillen and five Holy Trinty, Cookstown players in yesterday’s tie.
Tyrone scorers: P. Donnelly (1-1); Sean Hackett (0-3,2f); Mark Bradley (0-3,1f); Ruairi Sludden, Sean Molloy, Peter McKenna, Barry Cavanagh, Ruairi McGloin (0-1) each.
Donegal: Eoin McHugh (1-1); Ryan McHugh (0-2,2f); Oisin Carr, John McGarvey (0-1) each.
Donegal: Sean McClafferty; John Rose, Conor Parke, Gary Kelly; Stephen McBrearty, Ryan McHugh, Darragh Mulgrew; Conor Harkin, Raymond McNamee; Willie Gillespie, John McGarvey, Mark Gallagher; Oisin Carr, Aodhan McGinley, Eoin McHugh. Subs: Brendan McNelis for Conor Harkin and C. McGettigan for M. Gallagher(both 38).
Tyrone: Daire Martin; Rory Kelly, Ryan McElroy, Fergal McGarrity; Caolan Harvey, Ciaran McLaughlin, Colm O’Neill; Padraig Hamsey, Philip Donnelly, Conor O’Neill, Ruair Sludden; Mark Bradley, Sean Hackett, Ruairi McGloin.Subs: Peter McKenna for C. O’Neill (28); Dermot Carr for R. Sludden (48); Barry Cavanagh for P. Donnnelly (51 inj).
Referee: Enda McBrien ( Fermanagh).
Man of the match
Tyrone full-forward Sean Hackett put the Donegal defence under pressure any time he won possession and also kicked three points. He get the nod from his team mates Mark Bradley, Padraig Hamsely and Ciaran McLaughlin. Ryan McHugh, Darragh McMulgrew, Stephen McBrearty and Eoin McHugh were Donegal’s best players.
No great argument about it Tyrone’s goal before half time from Philip Donnelly brought his side from going in five points to just two at half-time.
Fermanagh referee Enda McBrien let the game flow and had a very good first half in the second he turned a blind eye to a lot of Tyrone persistent and tactical fouling. But over all did not have a bearing on the outcome of the game.