ALLIANZ NFL DIVISION 1
By Michael McMullan
GOALS from Man of the Match Conor O’Donnell and Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí helped Donegal maintain their 12-year unbeaten league run at MacCumhaill Park with victory over All-Ireland champions Tyrone on Saturday night.
The sides were level on eight occasions before Oisin Gallen put the home side ahead with three minutes to go before Mac Ceallabhuí sealed the game late on.
It takes Declan Bonner’s side to five points in the table and sucks Tyrone in the relegation zone.
Tyrone had chances to win the game in the closing stages, but Darren McCurry was off-target three times and Johnny Munroe fired over with a goal for the taking.
Donegal, playing with the breeze, started with Ryan McHugh playing inside with Patrick McBrearty and it was the latter that opened the scoring from a free, with McHugh curling over a second as they hunted down Tyrone’s kick-out.
Eventually when Niall Morgan went long on the ninth minute, it led to a fine point for Darragh Canavan, with McCurry leveling matters from a free.
A trademark McBrearty point on then loop edged Donegal ahead once again, but Michael McKernan landed the first of two first-half points.
Tyrone had a half chance for goal when Conn Kilpatrick blazed over before an eight-minute stoppage when Padraig McNulty was forced off injured after a clash with Odhran McFadden-Ferry.
Tyrone, very economical with the ball, went 0-7 to 0-3 ahead before Donegal found net. It was all McBrearty’s work and after powering inside he squared for Conor O’Donnell to palm to the net.
Morgan came to Tyrone’s rescue to deny O’Donnell a second goal before Jason McGee curled over to the game (1-4 to 0-7) at half-time.
McCurry and Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton exchanged point early in the second half.
Donegal were lucky not concede a goal when Brendan McCole’s backward handpass was cleared off his own line by Mac Ceallabhuí, leading to a Conor O’Donnell point at the other end.
They had Patton to thank for a brilliant save to deny Michael McKernan in the 57th minute.
Cathal McShane added a point on his introduction, but Conor O’Donnell twice fired over to swing the game in the home side’s favour.
When Munroe blazed over, a draw was looking the likely result until Donegal’s late scoring burst
Donegal: S Patton (0-1f); C Ward, B McCole, S McMenamin; R McHugh (0-1), EB Gallagher, O McFadden-Ferry; H McFadden, J McGee (0-1); S O’Donnell (0-1), P Mogan, C Thompson; P McBrearty (0-2, 1f), C O’Donnell (1-3), N O’Donnell
Subs: J Mac Ceallabhuí (1-0) for N O’Donnell (35+8), O Gallen (0-1) for H McFadden (59), D Ó Baoil for S O’Donnell (68), E O’Donnell for O McFadden-Ferry (68)
Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan (0-2), P Hampsey, F Burns; N Sludden, J Munroe (0-1), K McGeary; C Kilpatrick (0-1), B Kennedy; N Donnelly, D Canavan (0-1), C Meyler; D McCurry (0-5, 3f), P McNulty, P Donaghy
Subs: R Donnelly (0-1) for P McNulty (INJ 17), C McShane (0-1) for P Donaghy (56), C McKenna for K McGeary (68)
Referee: B Cawley (Sligo)