Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Donegal too hot for Tyrone

Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter Final between Donegal and Tyrone at Pirc MacCumhaill, Ballybofey, Co Donegal
Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter Final between Donegal and Tyrone at Pirc MacCumhaill, Ballybofey, Co Donegal

Donegal 2-10 Tyrone 0-10: Well, that's that settled. Donegal are unquestionably the best side in Ulster and it would take a fool to say they are not the best in Ireland after they produced an emphatic, controlled display to dump Tyrone in the qualifiers.

This has got to hurt so badly in the Red Hand ranks. After a winter and spring spent fermenting the right gameplan, the new specialist kicker and getting pace into crucial areas, Tyrone were cut down.

It's rare that Tyrone win midfield – they used to let other sides do that to them and then ransack the ball in the tackle. That used to be their patent, but Donegal did that to them here.

The first free that Niall Morgan took, Donegal's tall men of Rory Kavanagh, Michael Murphy and Ryan Bradley stood close, perhaps too close and held their arms aloft. They psyched him out of it.

In fact, the game cannot truly be described in terms of what Donegal did, but rather what they forbid Tyrone to do.

They managed a total shut-out of goals, as they had in 2011 and 2012. When Morgan was presented with no less than six scoring chances, a combination of fans in the stand and players on field put him off his stride.

After hitting 18 points in the league, he only managed one here.

He has been a joy to behold but after this day he knows what it's likes to play with the big boys.

The morning had hummed with hundreds of text messages pinging around the province. Karl Lacey out. Mark McHugh out. Rory Kavanagh in bother.

Every message spoke of Donegal botheration.

Out bounded Declan and David Walsh from the tunnel to replace Lacey and McHugh, and instantly the day was a very different one indeed.

Or was it? Almost a year ago at the same location, with the same overcast stormy kind of day, Donegal embarrassed Derry by going after their strengths, placing Lacey on Paddy Bradley.

They snuffed out Derry's threat at source. They poured forward in the opening stages here, a Murphy free sandwiched between two from Colm McFadden, with David Walsh making it 0-4 to 0-1 after eight minutes.

Jim McGuinness' (pictured) men had won five of the first six kickouts but then Tyrone turned the screw.

They won 12 of the remaining 16 kickouts in the half, with Conor Gormley positively heroic in that period.

Stephen O'Neill crafted one of his beautiful points and Mattie Donnelly swung one over from wide on the left to level it.

Just before that, O'Neill went in heavy against Anthony Thompson and buckled him with an old-fashioned shoulder.

He went to follow it up with one on Neil McGee but he may as well as thrown himself against Mount Errigal and he bounced off the steely Gweedore man.

Tyrone were pressing well up the field when Harte fouled up the field.

Referee Joe McQuillan brought it forward for an indiscretion and Michael Murphy lofted it into the danger zone.

Paddy McBrearty climbed above PJ Quinn to palm the ball down to Colm McFadden who had ghosted away from Cathal McCarron.

A neat finish later and Ballybofey erupted.

The most common saying of Donegal is that they are a second half team but it didn't look that way in the early stages of this contest.

Mark Donnelly was pulled down inside the penalty box by Leo McLoone but McQuillan did not peep for it.

Justin McMahon pointed the recycled ball.

Sean Cavanagh levelled it after some dispute between the umpires and Tyrone had the momentum. Cavanagh and Harte were switched into the inside forward positions but they spurned a series of chances.

Donegal sent on Karl Lacey for Thompson and in a rare attack McBrearty burned down the right wing with Dermot Carlin trailing.

Martin Penrose made the hit on him but the Kilcar youngster rode the tackle and flicked it to championship debutant Ross Wherity who punched to the net.

From that moment, Donegal assumed total control of the game.

Tyrone did not score for 32 minutes, with one Harte drive saved by substitute Mark McHugh's diving block an example of their sheer will.

Tyrone head for a long night of the soul.

Donegal look headed for more silverware.

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; E McGee, Declan Walsh, A Thompson; R Kavanagh (0-1), N Gallagher; R Bradley, L McLoone, David Walsh (0-1); P McBrearty (0-2), M Murphy (0-3, 2f,Capt), C McFadden (1-3, 2xf). Subs: McHugh for McGlynn (21m), O'Reilly for Bradley (half-time), McElhinney for David Walsh (42m), Lacey for Thompson, R Wherity (1-0) for McLoone (48m)

Yellow cards: McLoone (37m), McGrath (68m)

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, 1f); PJ Quinn, C Clarke, C McCarron; Justin McMahon (0-1), Joe McMahon, C Gormley; C Cavanagh (0-1), S Cavanagh (0-2, 1xf); Matthew Donnelly (0-2), P Harte, Mark Donnelly; M Penrose, S O'Neill (0-1, Capt), C McAliskey (0-1). Subs: McNeice for McAliskey (27m), Carlin for Quinn (half-time), Cassidy for Justin McMahon (56m), Coney (0-1) for Mark Donnelly (57m), McCrory for Carlin (62m)

Yellow cards: Joe McMahon (55, 63m), C Cavanagh (62m), S Cavanagh (63m), Harte (30m), McAliskey (23m)

Red cards: McMahon (63m)

Referee: Joe McQuillan, Cavan

Attendance: 17,519.