IN THEIR FIRST game without Mickey Harte as manager for 19 years, Tyrone went down to Donegal by two points in the Division 1 North this evening.
Fergal Logan and Brian Dooher took charge for the 2021 campaign, but they started off on a losing note as man-of-the-match Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan and Paddy McBrearty fired Declan Bonner’s side to victory.
The Red Hand played all bar seven minutes of the second-half with 14 men following Michael O’Neill’s dismissal, so they won’t be too disheartened by this result.
Indeed the performance of newcomer Paul Donaghy, the star forward for Dungannon Clarkes on their run to the Tyrone SFC title last year, would have left his joint bosses purring.
The 22-year-old clipped over 10 points and looked at home at this level on a day where Conor McKenna was held to a single point.
The first-half was a quality, open affair. Tyrone debutant Donaghy opened his account in the sixth minute and finished the half with 0-5 (two from play).
Tyrone employed a more attacking style than in previous years under Mickey Harte, leaving plenty of men ahead of the ball with their attack built around former AFL man McKenna.
Tyrone’s Niall O’Donnell with Padraig Hampsey of Donegal.
Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
At the far end Paddy McBrearty looked back to his best form while Michael Murphy, playing at full-forward, kept the scoreboard moving from frees and open play.
Kieran McGeary forced a good save from Shaun Patton with an attempted lob and Niall Morgan slotted over the resultant 45. McBrearty’s late point left the sides deadlocked at 0-10 apiece after the opening 35 minutes.
The Red Hand lost wing-back Michael O’Neill to a harsh looking second yellow early in the second-half after a challenge on Ryan McHugh. Boosted by the extra man, Donegal reeled off three points in succession through talismen Murphy, McBrearty and Brennan.
Donaghy’s seventh and eighth scores left Tyrone two behind as the game entered the final five minutes. He reduced the gap to two with a stunning outside the boot strike, but Peadar Morgan immediately cancelled that out after a break forward from the flank.
A rip-roaring finale saw Donaghy and substitute Mark Bradley find the target, but Murphy’s sixth score of the day helped Donegal over the line.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy 0-6 (0-3f), Paddy McBrearty 0-4 (0-2f), Jamie Brennan and Ciaran Thompson 0-2 each, Ciaran McGonagle, Niall O’Donnell, Michael Langan and Peadar Morgan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tyrone: Paul Donaghy 0-10 (0-6f), Niall Morgan (0-1f), Michael O’Neill, Conor Myler, Kieran McGeary, Conor McKenna, Mark Bradley 0-1 each.
1. Shaun Patton (St Eunan’s)
2. Caolan Ward (St Eunan’s), 3. Neil Magee (Gaoth Dobhair), 4. Brendan McCole (St Naul’s)
5. Ryan McHugh (Kilcar), 6. Paul Brennan (Bundoran), 15. Peader Mogan (St Naul’s)
8. Hugh McFadden (Killybegs), 9. Ciaran McGonagle (Buncrana)
10. Niall O’Donnell (St Eunan’s), 11. Ciaran Thompson (Naomh Conaill), 12. Michael Langan (St Michael’s)
13. Paddy McBrearty (Kilcar), 14. Michael Murphy (Glenswilly), 17. Jamie Brennan (Bundoran)
D O Baoill for McFadden (h-t)
E McHugh for Ward (44)
O Gallen for J Brennan (63)
A McClean for P Brennan (64)
E O’Donnell for Langan (68)
E Doherty for O’Donnell (74)
1. Niall Morgan (Edendork)
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2. Rory Brennan (Trillick), 3. Ronan McNamee (Aghyaran), 4. Padraig Hampsey (capt, Coalisland)
of the team
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5. Michael Cassidy (Ardboe), 6. Peter Harte (Errigal Ciaran), 7. Michael O’Neill (Ardboe)
8. Frank Burns (Pomeroy), 9. Brian Kennedy (Derrylaughan)
13. Kieran McGeary (Pomeroy), 11. Mattie Donnelly (Trillick), 12. Conor Meyler (Omagh)
10. Paul Donaghy (Dungannon Clarkes), 14. Conor McKenna (Eglish), 15. Richard Donnelly (Trillick)
M McKernan for McNamee (10)
C Munroe for Kennedy (h-t)
M Bradley (0-01) for R Donnelly (42)
N Sludden for Cassidy (58)
D Canavan for McGeary (68)
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)