Monday 22 October 2018

Bonner hails Donegal 'character' as they lift McKenna

Donegal 1-16 Tyrone 1-12

Donegal's Hugh McFadden holds the cup. Photo: Sportsfile
Donegal's Hugh McFadden holds the cup. Photo: Sportsfile

Chris McNulty

Declan Bonner praised Donegal's character as they ended Tyrone's McKenna Cup dominance on Saturday night.

Donegal held sway in an absorbing encounter at the Athletic Grounds to deny Tyrone a seventh title in a row.

Donegal's Michael Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile
Donegal's Michael Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile

When Martin McElhinney cancelled out Harry Loughran's goal in the opening 10 minutes, it was the cue for a rip-roaring tie, with Donegal picking up an encouraging win.

"We showed good character and that was pleasing. Tyrone came back at us hard a number of times and in the first-half we went five or six ahead, but Tyrone came back to level at one stage in the second-half," Bonner said.

"We kicked on again and finished the game out well."

After Dáire Ó Baoill, who was making his first senior start, popped over two early points for Donegal, Tyrone drew blood when Loughran got on the end of Conal McCann's deliver to prod beyond Shaun Patton, the Donegal goalkeeper.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile

However, Donegal's response was instant as McElhinney lobbed Mickey O'Neill after being put through by Odhrán Mac Niallais. After a year out in 2017, Mac Niallais has returned to give Donegal a real lift.

"Odhrán is a different quality," said Bonner. "Some of the stuff he does is absolutely top class and he is really enjoying his football.

"That's the type of player he is. Sometimes you're shouting at him to show a little more urgency, but he's got brilliant vision and he's such a talented player. He's starting to work hard."

With Paul Brennan, Mac Niallais and Martin O'Reilly on the mark, Donegal led by five.

Tyrone's Darren McCurry of Tyrone fends off Donegal's Conor Morrison. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone's Darren McCurry of Tyrone fends off Donegal's Conor Morrison. Photo: Sportsfile

When Ronan O'Neill tucked over in the 46th minute, there was a feeling that the tide was perhaps turning, but teenager Niall O'Donnell landed a brace and Michael Murphy, not long into the action, hit another to restore Donegal to the driving seat.

Murphy was sent on early in the second-half and Tyrone called in the heavy artillery too, with Cathal McShane, Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte thrown into the action.

Tyrone were within a point again, but Brennan landed a wonderful effort and Murphy steadied the ship with a free.

Scorers - Donegal: M McElhinney 1-1, M Murphy (2f), N O'Donnell 0-3 each, P Brennan, D Ó Baoill, M O'Reilly 0-2 each, F McGlynn, O Mac Niallais, C Thompson 0-1 each.

Donegal Eamonn Doherty tries to get away from Tyrone's Ronan McHugh. Photo: Sportsfile
Donegal Eamonn Doherty tries to get away from Tyrone's Ronan McHugh. Photo: Sportsfile

Tyrone: R O'Neill (5f) 0-6, H Loughran 1-1, D McCurry, C McCarron, D McClure, L McGeary, C McCann 0-1 each

Donegal - S Patton; S McMenamin, E Doherty, C Morrison; D Ó Baoill, F McGlynn, P Brennan; O Mac Niallais, H McFadden; M McHugh, M McElhinney, C McGonagle; C Thompson, S McBrearty, M O'Reilly. Subs: N O'Donnell for McBrearty (25), M Murphy for McElhinney (42), N Mullins for O'Reilly (45), C Ward for McGlynn (54), B McCole for McGonagle (64), N McGee for Doherty (70).

Tyrone - M O'Neill; A McCrory, C McCarron, B Burns; M Cassidy, P Hampsey, R McNabb; D McClure, B McDonnell; L McGeary, H Loughran, C McCann; D McCurry, R McHugh, R O'Neill. Subs: M Donnelly and C McShane for Cassidy and McClure (41), P Harte for McGeary (43), H McGeary for McCrory (50), C Meyler for McDonnell (54), N Sludden for Loughnan (60)

Ref - B Cassidy (Derry)

Irish Independent

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