Sunday 24 September 2017

Colm Keys: Donegal's second half surge seals it

Donegal ..............0-12
Tyrone................0-10

Tyrone's Owen Mulligan battles for the ball with Paddy McGrath of Donegal in Clones last night. Photo: Oliver McVeigh.
Tyrone's Owen Mulligan battles for the ball with Paddy McGrath of Donegal in Clones last night. Photo: Oliver McVeigh.

Donegal remain on course to successfully defend their Ulster title for the first time ever after this absorbing Ulster football semi final in Clones.









The football wasn’t always pretty as both sides set up ultra defensively, deploying sweepers from the start and massing numbers behind the ball to great effect.



But in the end Donegal stayed the distance longer and a powerful surge midway through the second half that took them from two points down at one stage to four points clear made all the difference. Tyrone led by 0-6 to 0-5 at half-time and really should have been further ahead for the chances that they created.



When Joe McMahon sliced over a second free from the outside of his right foot from over 45 metres out it gave them a two point cushion for the first time. But Donegal’s greater endurance kicked in and Rory Kavanagh found gaps in the weakening Tyrone cover twice to drawl Donegal level.



When the impressive Ryan Bradley sent over his only point on 48 minutes it gave Donegal the lead for the first time, 0-9 to 0-8 and they turned the screw with further points from Michael Murphy (free), Karl Lacey and Colm McFadden. They defend that 0-12 to 0-8 smartly as Tyrone pressed and they required a smart save and the woodwork at the end to deny Martin Penrose a goal. Donegal now meet Down in the Ulster final in three weeks time and victory would give them a seventh Ulster title in their history.



Scorers – Donegal: M Murphy (3f), C McFadden (2f) 0-3 each, R Kavanagh 0-2, K Lacey, R Bradley, P McBrearty, M McHugh all 0-1 each.



Tyrone:Stephen O’Neill, J McMahon (2f) 0-2 each, C Clarke, D Carlin, Sean O’Neill, C Gormley (1 45), Mark Donnelly, M Penrose all 0-1 each.



Donegal: P Durcan; E McGee, N McGee, P McGrath; A Thompson, K Lacey, F McGlynn; N Gallagher, R Kavanagh; R Bradley, David Walsh, M McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden Subs: Declan Walsh for N McGee (3), M McElhinney for Gallagher (55), M O’Reilly for David Walsh (55), L McLoone for Bradley (69), C Toye for McBrearty (73).



Tyrone: P McConnell; C Gormley, C Clarke, A McRory; R McMenamin, Sean O’Neill, D Carlin; J McMahon, C Cavanagh; Stephen O’Neill, P Harte, Mattie Donnelly; M Penrose, Mark Donnelly, O Mulligan. Subs: R McNabb for Mulligan (49), B McGuigan for Mattie Donnelly (61), N McKenna for McMenamin (65), A Cassidy for Mark Donnelly (65).



Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).



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