Tyrone leave Donegal with real relegation scrap after Omagh win
Mickey Harte’s side take the two points from tense encounter at Healy Park
Tyrone’s Niall Sludden celebrates his goal against Donegal in the Allianz Football League Division 1A match at Healy Park in Omagh. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho
Tyrone 2-13 Donegal 1-10
The big Ulster derby relegation battle went Tyrone’s way at Healy Park, where they gleaned two valuable NFL Division One points from a tense encounter with Donegal.
The outcome leaves Declan Bonner’s side in deep trouble, with just two points from five games, and difficult clashes against Monaghan, next weekend, and Mayo still to come.
It was Donegal who looked the more potent of the sides early on, despite the absence of top scorer Paddy McBrearty through injury.
Michael Murphy was deployed as an out-and-out attacker, but failed to score from play, and in the end, Donegal paid the price for a lack of finishing power.
Midfielder Odhrán MacNiallais opened the scoring for an attack-minded Donegal side, who played with the wind in the opening period, and when he added a second, a monster effort from 50 metres, Donegal led by 0-3 to 0-1 after six minutes.
Donegal were ahead by double scores, 0-6 to 0-3, by the end of the opening quarter as Murphy converted his second free, but the absence of top scorer McBrearty was to prove a huge handicap.
Tyrone were awarded a penalty for goalkeeper Shaun Patton’s foul on Sludden, but Peter Harte sent his shot wide.
Two minutes later, however, they did hit the net, and it was Sludden who finished low past Patton to put the Red Hands in front for the first time, ahead by 1-5 to 0-7 at the break.
And they grabbed a second goal less than two minutes into the second half, a delightful Bradley side-step wrong-footing Leo McLoone, and sending the Killyclogher man through to plant the ball in the net for a four-points advantage.
Connor McAliskey (two) and goalkeeper Niall Morgan tagged on scores from frees, and Tyrone now held a seven points lead, 2-8 to 0-7.
Substitute Stephen McBrearty slotted over a score to leave a goal between the sides, and they had another positive spell which saw Hugh McFadden narrow the gap further.
Going into the final 10 minutes, Donegal trailed by just two, but the Red Hands dominated that closing spell, hitting the last four points of the game, through Brennan (two), Cathal McShane and Harte to claim two important points.
TYRONE: N Morgan (0-1, free); HP McGeary, P Hampsey, C McCarron; C Meyler, F Burns, M Donnelly; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; P Harte (0-1), N Sludden (1-1), C McShane (0-1); L Brennan (0-5, four frees, C McAliskey (0-3, three frees), M Bradley (1-1).
Subs: M McKernan for McGeary (48 mins), K McGeary for McNulty (56), D Mulgrew for McAliskey (62), D McCurry for Bradley (66), C McCann for McShane (70), R Brennan for Meyler (73).
DONEGAL: S Patton; C Morrison, S McMenamin, E Ban Gallagher (0-1); T McClenaghan, C Ward, E Doherty (0-1); H McFadden (0-1), O MacNiallais (1-2); L McLoone, R McHugh, M McHugh (0-1); C Thompson, M Murphy (0-3, all frees), J Brennan.
Subs: D Ó Baoill for Thompson (41 mins), M McElhinney for McClenaghan (41), S McBrearty (0-1) for M McHugh (48), F McGlynn for Ward (56), N O’Donnellf for Brennan (63), M Langan for MacNiallais (76).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).