Tyrone 0-16, Donegal 0-8
Tyrone joint manager Brian Dooher parks himself against the wall outside the dressing-room, the game and the two points long secured, and doesn’t give anything to you easy. In case anyone thought he was going soft.
You daren’t assume that the annus miserabilus of 2022, where they could barely buy a win as All-Ireland champions, has anything to do with – for Tyrone standards – a poor Dr McKenna Cup campaign and opening league day flop away to Roscommon.
Being inside the works gifts him with a wider perspective on the previous week’s defeat to Roscommon and this mature demolition of a callow Donegal squad.
“We were just expecting a bit of a performance,” he stated afterwards.
“Last week wasn’t all bad, it was poor for a wee bit of it and that’s where the harm was done. Today we were a bit more structured, we got organised a bit better. I thought the boys did well and worked really hard.”
For sure. Dooher might cite small differences, but this was a team that looked to have more appetite and urgency.
They lay deep and set traps. And when they turned the ball over, they kicked it more frequently, epitomised by the strong performance of Frank Burns, who was left on the bench for the entire Roscommon game.
“We brought a couple of men in and they acquitted themselves very well,” added Dooher. “Men, I thought, worked superbly across the field – great work-rate from all the forwards. This win really sets the template for moving onwards.”
After last week when Tyrone toiled into the wind for the first half of their defeat to Roscommon, it was interesting to see captain Pádraig Hampsey elect to play into the wind for the first half. They finished the half 0-6 to 0-3 up, having registered the first three to open up a lead that never looked threatened.
Donegal, however, butchered an unlikely goal chance through Jeaic McKelvey when Conor O’Donnell’s fisted attempt hit the crossbar.
McKelvey didn’t get a clean connection on his shot and Brian Kennedy was on the line to clear the danger for Tyrone.
Donegal’s lack of scoring ability was shown up when they had to run into the wind and you sense that Tyrone enjoyed breaking down the opposition’s attacking forwards by setting defensive traps and profiting off the turnovers.
The first half was double scores, 0-6 to 0-3, and the second half had the same pattern, 0-10 to 0-5.
During this period, you could see Donegal will have a long way to go in the post-Michael Murphy era.
There is just no getting away from it, they had a team here that lacked experience and some dogs of war. In the coming weeks, Michael Langan, Ciarán Thompson, Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Oisín Gallen and Ryan McHugh are all due to return. By the end of the league, they will all be back.
Without them, Donegal pulled off a minor miracle to beat a very understrength Kerry team last week. You can point to a lack of depth in a panel, but that’s a chasm.
From the dead ball, Darren McCurry feasted on frees and marks, Darragh Canavan contributed a trio of points and Donegal looked toothless and young, especially when captain Patrick McBrearty was withdrawn. Everything about the performance just shouted ‘control’ from the home side.
“We have a good number of young lads in there,” stated Donegal manager Paddy Carr afterwards.
“One day things will go right for them, on another day they have to experience that as well. But that builds character. There is nobody feeling sorry for themselves in there. We are disappointed for the people who made the journey, but we know we are way better than that.
“You get the highs and lows from one week to the next, but we know we are better than what the scoreboard showed there today.”
With Monaghan up next after the break, Carr is uncertain just what the extent of McBrearty’s injury is.
“I know he was kind of holding his leg there. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him so I don’t know what the nature of that injury is. The medics are looking at him there,” he explained.
Scorers – Tyrone: D McCurry 0-7 (6f, 1m); D Canavan 0-3; C McShane, C Munroe, P Hampsey, C Quinn, B Kennedy, F Burns 0-1 each. Donegal: J Brennan (1m) and C O’Donnell 0-2 each; J McKelvey, H McFadden, P McBrearty (1m), J Bradley Walsh (1f) 0-1 each.
Tyrone – N Morgan; M McKernan, C Munroe, P Hampsey; C Quinn, P Harte, N Devlin; C Kilpatrick, B Kennedy; F Burns, K McGeary, C Meyler; C McShane, D McCurry, D Canavan. Subs: N Sludden for Canavan (53), M Donnelly for Quinn (64), R Donnelly for Sludden (68), E McNabb for McCurry (72), N McCarron for McGeary (72).
Donegal – S Patton; M Curran, B McCole, C Ward; C McColgan, S McMenamin, J McKelvey; C McGonagle, J McGee; J McGroddy, D Ó Baoill, C O’Donnell; H McFadden, P McBrearty, J Brennan. Subs: P Mogan for McMcKelvey (h-t), J Grant for McGrotty (51), J Bradley Walsh for McBrearty (58), B O’Donnell for McColgan (67).
Ref – D Gough (Meath)