A rip-roaring McKenna Cup tie at Ballybofey last night finished all square in what was a superb contest between two fully committed sides with Tyrone’s Martin Penrose contributing a hat-trick of goals.
The Red Hand County took the lead with less than a minute on the clock, Tommy McGuigan knocking over a free, but the hosts were soon level with Michael Murphy on target from a placed ball.
In the fourth minute Tyrone struck for the first goal of the night when a long ball forward from midfielder Aidan Cassidy saw Penrose turn Neil McGee before giving keeper Paul Durcan no chance with a rasping shot.
Niall Gormley tagged on a point but in the eighth minute the home side were back in contention when Murphy got on the end of a sideline ball from Darragh Gallagher to flick past keeper Michael O’Neill.
A Penrose brace and one from McGuigan stretched Tyrone’s advantage again before two points from Colm McFadden helped Donegal close the deficit to the minimum by the end of the opening quarter.
In the 20th minute though the visitors grabbed their second major of the night when McGuigan provided the pass for another superb finish by Penrose, and when Gareth Devlin added a point the Ulster champions appeared to be well in control.
The accuracy of Murphy though kept Donegal in touch as he knocked over a succession of frees on his way to a first half tally of |1-6.
Tyrone were on the ropes but in the final attack of the opening period Penrose completed his hat-trick after a through ball from senior debutant Gavin Teague to leave the scoreline 3-8 to 1-9 at the break.
Donegal made a positive start to the second half and within six minutes had cut the gap to a single point with efforts from McFadden, Darragh Gallagher and sub David Walsh.
Tyrone were still getting through for goal chances and it took a great save from Durcan to deny Niall Gormley.
Donegal though had the bit between their teeth and well taken points from McFadden and Murphy had the sides level going into the final quarter.
Tyrone’s Kyle Coney was sprung from the bench and made an immediate impact, taking a pass from Aidan Cassidy and hammering the ball to the roof of the net.
Donegal though weren’t finished yet and a high ball in from Darragh Gallagher was caught by Murphy who shot low to the net.
Murphy and McFadden added points to level matters going into injury time.
Donegal: P Durcan, J Keeney, N McGee, C McCarron, E Wade, K Lacey, M McGuire, K Cassidy, N Gallagher, E Kelly (0-1), C McFadden (0-5), D Gallagher (0-1), A Hanlon, M Murphy (2-9), G Concarr. Subs: D Walsh (0-1) for McCarron, F McNulty for D Gallagher, C Gallagher for Hanlon
Tyrone: M O’Neill, M Swift, Justin McMahon, Joe McMahon, G Teague (0-1), C Gormley, S O’Neill, A Cassidy, K Hughes, E McGinley, B McGuigan, T McGuigan (0-4), N Gormley (0-2), M Penrose (3-3), G Devlin (0-1). Subs: M Donnelly for Devlin, K Coney (1-0) for T McGuigan, R McNabb for C Gormley, E McCusker for N Gormley, P Harte for B McGuigan
Referee: JJ Cleary (Derry)