Allianz Football League Division 1: Tyrone 0-16 Donegal 0-8
A first League win over Donegal since 2018 provided a much-needed spark for a Tyrone side struggling for form.
The Red Hands look like they are on the way back to the level expected of the 2021 All-Ireland champions, dominant at O’Neills Healy Park, where their northwest neighbours struggled to transition from a rigid defensive platform.
The home side was able to pick holes in the packed rearguard assembled ahead of them, with Darren McCurry fining over seven points from placed balls.
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For joint-manager Brian Dooher, it was a simple issue of honest endeavour as the 2021 All-Ireland champions sought to break the malaise that has lingered since their 2021 Sam Maguire Cup triumph.
“We got a good week’s work done, good week’s training. I just asked for an honest effort there and that’s what we got,” he said.
“It’s good to get a win – should have had it last week but there’s nothing we can do about that now, we just have to look forward. Same thing, that [Donegal] match is done now, we head back and get ready for the next match.”
He admitted that soul-searching was required from all involved in the loss to Roscommon a week earlier.
“There was, but we do that after every game, win, lose, or draw. We were just expecting a bit of a performance. 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.”
Donegal dropped 15 players deep into their own half, despite the wind that gusted to their backs, but the Red Hands found the openings to craft an early lead.
It was Kieran McGeary who produced a couple of incisive assists to send Darragh Canavan and Brian Kennedy through to score, before Darren McCurry slotted a free between the posts.
Breaking on the counter-attack, the visitors got off the mark with Jamie Brennan’s long range effort, and were just a point adrift on the 20-minute mark as Shaun Patton’s booming kick-out created the space for Conor O’Donnell to hit the target.
And they almost had a goal when O’Donnell’s fisted effort came back off a post and into the hands of McKelvey, but his shot was cleared off the line by Kennedy.
Cormac Munroe pushed Tyrone into a 0-6 to 0-3 interval lead, and a string of scores in the opening ten minutes of the second half, from Cathal McShane, McCurry and Canavan forced the Donegal men to come out of their defensive shell.
And they in turn found the Tyrone barricades difficult to break down, managing only a point in a 20-minute spell, a Brennan mark.
It was a straightforward run to the finish line for a Red Hand side that found spaces for defenders Padraig Hampsey and Cormac Quinn to pick off scores as they strode to a victory that was just as comfortable as the scoreline suggests.
Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan, C Munroe (0-1), P Hampsey (0-1); C Quinn (0-1), P Harte, N Devlin; C Kilpatrick, B Kennedy (0-1); F Burns (0-1), K McGeary, C Meyler; D McCurry (0-7, 6f, 1m), C McShane (0-1, m), D Canavan (0-03). Subs: N Sludden for Canavan (53), M Donnelly for Quinn (63), R Donnelly for Sludden (68), N McCarron for McGeary (71), E McNabb for McCurry (71).
Donegal: S Patton; M Curran, B McCole, C Ward; C McColgan, S McMenamin, J McKelvey (0-1); C McGonagle, J McGee; J McGroddy, D O Baoill, C O’Donnell (0-2); H McFadden (0-1), P McBrearty (0-1, f), J Brennan (0-2, 1m). Subs: P Mogan for McKelvey (h-t), J Grant for McGroddy (50), J Bradley-Walsh (0-1, f) for McBrearty (58), B O’Donnell for McColgan (66).
Referee: D Gough (Meath).