'One of the worst ever,' says Mickey Harte as Donegal hammer sorry Tyrone
Donegal 1-13 Tyrone 0-6: Allianz NFL Division 1
Mickey Harte was left to ponder what he described as one of the worst performances he's witnessed by a Tyrone team in Ballybofey yesterday.
Donegal had 10 points to spare on the Red Hands in a one-sided game with Ryan McHugh's goal and some peerless free-taking by Michael Murphy ensuring that Rory Gallagher's team survive in the top flight.
Harte, now in his 13th campaign as Tyrone boss, pulled no punches as he assessed the damage, seven weeks out from the Ulster Championship clash between the two counties.
"It is a very, very disappointing performance and I said to the players afterwards it was as bad a performance as I've been involved in with the Tyrone team over all the time that I've been involved - at any level and at any age," Harte said.
"That's where we're at the moment so that's the baseline where we're starting from for next week and seven weeks' time.
"We didn't believe we were coming here to get a whipping like that.
"We thought in the second half that we could play for a bit more pride and it was sort of a damage-limitation exercise but it didn't even become that."
Donegal led 1-9 to 0-3 at the break with McHugh netting in the 32nd minute. At no stage did Tyrone look like they'd mount a comeback.
Harte said: "We hope it will get a response but I'm not saying it to get a response.
"I'm telling it like it is and that's the truth of the matter.
"We were so second best throughout that game and Donegal had all the energy. They played with more passion and quality than we did."
McHugh's goal arrived with Donegal in the groove having posted four points in a row.
Hugh McFadden seemed poised to net after Frank McGlynn's effort came off the upright. Sean Fox, in as a replacement for Niall Morgan after 20 minutes, saved at the feet of McFadden, but McHugh crashed home.
Donegal wasted no time in getting off the mark, Odhrán MacNiallais winning the throw-in to set Murphy up for a point on 10 seconds. Murphy followed it up by landing a magnificent free from 55 metres.
Martin McElhinney and the rampaging Neil McGee put Donegal three ahead, but Tyrone hit back through Ronan O'Neill and Connor McAliskey.
After McGee's sheer power held off Justin McMahon, the full-back teed up McElhinney, who steadied himself under pressure to score.
Two frees from Murphy, the second of which he landed from 60 metres, stretched the lead before McHugh struck gold.
Against the breeze, Murphy continued his good form, sailing over a 50-metre free.
Peter Harte ended a half-an-hour Tyrone drought, but it was already something of an ordeal for the Red Hands.
Sean Cavanagh appeared for the second half, but it wasn't enough to inspire a comeback.
McHugh might have had a second goal, but he was denied by a Justin McMahon block after the excellent McElhinney drove through. Donegal lost Murphy and man of the match Martin McElhinney to black cards late in the day. Murphy's black card means he misses the Easter Sunday game against Mayo in Castlebar.
Tyrone kicked 12 wides and were wasteful throughout while Donegal goalkeeper Michael Boyle - making a rare appearance with Paul Durcan unavailable having been involved in a car crash on Saturday - thwarted PJ Laverty, who got in for a late goal chance.
Donegal have now kept themselves in Division 1. Manager Rory Gallagher said: "Fitness levels have come on and we've started a wee bit of hard training. We went out with a much more positive attitude. We embraced the challenge that was there and that has a lot to do with it.
"We played with a lot more quality than we have at any stage in the league. Maybe the local rivalry with Tyrone brought out the best in us.
"We didn't let Tyrone back into it and I was pleased with the overall attitude.
"You want to go into the championship in good confidence and a positive frame of mind. Division 1 is where the best teams are and it's great for bringing on new players." Man of the Match: Martin McElhinney
Scorers - Donegal: M Murphy 0-6 (5f), R McHugh 1-1, M McElhinney 0-2, O MacNiallais, N McGee, F McGlynn, P McBrearty (f) 0-1 each. Tyrone: P Harte 0-2 (1f), R O'Neill, C McAliskey (f), D McCurry (f), S Cavanagh (f) 0-1 each
Donegal - M Boyle 8; E Doherty 7, N McGee 7, E McGee 7; F McGlynn 8, K Lacey 7, R McHugh 8; N Gallagher 8, C Toye 6; M O'Reilly 7, O McNiallais 7, M McElhinney 9; P McBrearty 6, M Murphy 8, H McFadden 6. Subs: C McFadden 6 for Gallagher (57), A Thompson 6 for Murphy (BC, 60), D McLaughlin 5 for McElhinney (BC, 66), M McHugh 5 for R.McHugh (67), G McFadden 5 for N.McGee (69), D Walsh 5 for O'Reilly (70).
Tyrone - N Morgan 5; A McCrory 5, R McNamee 6, C McCarron 6; R McNabb 6, J McMahon 7, P Harte 7; C Cavanagh 6, P McNulty 6; T McCann 6; Mattie Donnelly 6, R O'Neill 5; D McCurry 6, C Clarke 6, C McAliskey 6. Subs: S Fox 7 for Morgan (20), S Cavanagh 6 for O'Neill (h-t), PJ Lavery 6 for McAliskey (40), C McCann 5 for McNulty (40), R McKenna 5 for Clarke (43), P Hughes 5 for C.Cavanagh (60).
Ref - J McQuillan (Cavan)