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McBrearty and Murphy shine as Donegal edge Tyrone

Tyrone Vs Donegal


Healy Park

By Ciaron Noble

For the third time in 7 months Donegal managed to defeat Tyrone. Better quality scores from play helped them edge their rivals in Healy Park.

In arguably the fixture of the weekend Tyrone hosted Donegal in the opening round of the Allianz Football League. For the home side it marked the beginning of a new era, under new management for the first time in 18 years in Fergal Logan and Brian Dooher. The visitors Donegal were hoping to get back to winning ways after their surprising Ulster Final loss to Cavan last season.

This contest didn’t exactly have the high-tempo and frantic start the Kerry vs Galway game earlier on in the day, however Donegal talisman Michael Murphy did kick a score almost 10 seconds after the ball was thrown in. Murphy was as influential as ever throughout the 70+ minutes, with his surging runs down the middle causing Tyrone all sorts of problems. He scored six points on the day, with three of those points coming from frees.

In the first quarter, the teams were well matched. Murphy’s early score got his team on the board. It took Tyrone six minutes to register their first score, it eventually came from a Paul Donaghy free, getting his first score for his county and the first of the Logan and Dooher tenure. After a fairly pedestrian opening eleven or so minutes the game sprung to life, some good movement from the men in red and white got Conor McKenna the ball who was looking dangerous heading towards goal before he linked up with Michael O’Neill who kicked the score, giving his team the lead. Not wasting any time, Shaun Patton launched the ball down field to Murphy, steam rolling towards the goal, he passed inside to Ryan McHugh who laid it off to Paddy MacBrearty who got the point. Another couple of scores from Donegal’s Michael Langan and Murphy were equalled by a McKenna and Donaghy point each. It was 0-04-0-04 at the first water-break.

At the start of the second quarter, Declan Bonner’s men looked lively as a Murphy free and a beautifully taken score from Jamie Brennan gave them a two-point lead. The hosts replied with some good pressure from McKenna which helped Conor Meyler gain possession, kicking the ball over the posts, it was back to a one-point game.

However, the visitors would extend their lead out to three with another Murphy score along with a Niall O’Donnell point. The Red Hand County began to up the tempo, responding in style, scoring three straight unanswered points making the scores level once more. This was their most impressive period of the match, as Donaghy added to his tally scoring twice more added with a Kieran McGeary score. It was 0-08 to 0-08.

Ciaran Thompson put Donegal back in front before some beautiful football from the home side. McGeary fired a shot that looked like it was going to creep under the crossbar forcing Patton to make the save. Tyrone’s goalkeeper Niall Morgan made the most of the 45, making the scores level once more. MacBrearty and Donaghy got a score each before the half-time whistle. It was all square at the break at 0-10 to 0-10.

It’s fair to say that the 2nd half was not as entertaining as the 1st. Before there was a point scored in the first half, Tyrone’s O’Neill was given red after being shown a second yellow card. Brennan opening the 2nd half scoring in the 8th minute, putting his side in the lead once more. The men from the northwest showed some real composure in the 2nd half. Murphy was looking dangerous any time he ran at the opposing defence, the likes of MacBrearty and Thompson showed their quality with some nicely taken scores. The men in green and gold were in the ascendancy. They led 0-14 to 0-11 at the water-break, with Donaghy’s scoring keeping the hosts in the game.

There has been talk of the Tyrone team moving towards more front-foot football under their new management and it was seen in glimpses, however they made far too many errors especially when attempting to score from play, racking up 10+ wides. On a positive note, Donaghy racked up an impressive 0-10 points on his Tyrone debut. The Dungannon clubman was the highest scorer in the 2020 Tyrone Club Championship. He was the real shining light for Tyrone today, it will be interesting to see what he does this season. However, despite his best-efforts Donegal claimed victory, with perfect game-management in the closing stages. Bonner’s men showed their experience by being more accurate in their shot-taking then their opponents. It finished 0-18 to 0-16.

It was a good game to start the campaign. The winner host Monaghan next week, with the losers facing Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh away.

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.


Shaun Patton 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) 2. Rory Brennan (Trillick), 3. Ronan McNamee (Aghyaran), 4. Padraig Hampsey (capt, Coalisland) 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)

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