FL1: resurgent Donegal run Red Hands ragged
18 March 2017
Donegal's Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Tyrone's Colm Cavanagh
Donegal are joint top of the Division One table following an impressive 0-12 to 0-6 defeat of neighbours Tyrone at wet and wild Ballybofey.
The Red Hands went into the fifth round of the league as table-toppers but they were given ample food for thought tonight by Rory Gallagher’s new-look charges, who played the game on their terms from start to finish and were full value for this excellent victory. Donegal now join the Red Hands on seven points in the league standings, while holders Dublin are also on seven (but ahead on score difference) following their draw with Kerry in Tralee tonight.
Any notions that the Tir Chonail men might struggle this year following the loss of so many key men have been well and truly dispelled at this stage. They have amassed seven points in the league so far and are looking more like a real team with each passing week.
With 8,570 spectators in attendance, Donegal – playing into the wind and driving rain - delivered a magnificent first-half display to amass a commanding five-point interval lead, 0-9 to 0-4, with the superb Ciaran Thompson slotting over three of those scores.
A Sean Cavanagh free got the losers up and running first but a Thompson brace and one from centre back Frank McGlynn had the hosts two clear before Eoin McHugh cancelled out a Rory Brennan effort. A Peter Harte brace drew the Red Hands level by the 19th minute but Donegal assumed complete control with a run of five unanswered points before the break, Ryan McHugh, Michael Murphy (free), corner back Paddy McGrath, Hugh McFadden and Thompson putting them in the ascendancy.
Tempers became frayed and there was plenty of pushing and shoving after Cavanagh hit the first point of the second half but substitute Cian Mulligan, Ryan McHugh and McFadden kept the winners ticking over and, while Cavanagh’s late consolation underlined the Moy man’s enduring class, it would have no bearing on the game itself.
Cavanagh's two points were the Red Hands' only scores of a 44-minute long second period and they came 33 minutes apart. Tyrone will have a lot of soul-searching to do after this display, even though the conditions were appaling. For Donegal, this is a 17th consecutive win at fortress MacCumhaill Park.
Donegal - M A McGinley; P McGrath (0-1), N McGee, E Doherty; E Ban Gallagher, F McGlynn (0-1), P Brennan; H McFadden (0-2), C Thompson (0-3); M O’Reilly, E McHugh (0-1), R McHugh (0-2); M Carroll, M Murphy (0-1f), J Brennan. Subs: C Mulligan (0-1) for F McGlynn, M McHugh for P McGrath (BC), M McElhinney for H McFadden, M Langan for P Brennan, B McCole for J Brennan, S McBrearty for E McHugh.
Tyrone - M O’Neill; C McShane, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, Justin McMahon, R Brennan (0-1); C Cavanagh, D McClure; N Sludden, K McGeary, P Harte (0-2, 1f); M Bradley, S Cavanagh (0-3, 2f), M Donnelly. Subs: P Hampsey for D McClure, C Meyler for C McShane, A McCrory for Justin McMahon, R O’Neill for R Brennan, J Monroe for C McCarron.
Referee - D Coldrick.