Ulster SFC semi-final: Tyrone 1-21 Donegal 1-12

Donegal's Neil McGee shields the ball from Niall Sludden of Tyrone
Donegal's Neil McGee shields the ball from Niall Sludden of Tyrone
Ulster Championship semi-final: Tyrone 1-21 Donegal 1-12
Tyrone scorers: T McCann 1-1, N Sludden 0-4, K McGeary 0-3, P Harte 0-2, P Hampsey 0-2, M Donnelly, 0-2, M Bradley 0-2, S Cavanagh 0-1, R O'Neill 0-1, D McClure 0-1, N Morgan 0-1, D Mulgrew 0-1
Donegal scorers: P McBrearty 0-6, M Murphy 0-3, M Carroll 1-0, M Reilly 0-1, M Langan 0-2

Tyrone stayed on course to retain their Ulster SFC title by outclassing Donegal in a one-sided semi-final at Clones.

The sides were level when Tyrone reeled off seven unanswered points to lead 0-12 to 0-5 at the break.

Tiernan McCann's early second-half goal ended the game as a contest as the Red Hands booked a place in the final against Monaghan or Down on 16 July.

Michael Carroll scored the only goal for a Donegal team who never looked like avenging their 2016 final defeat.

Paddy McBrearty was the game's top-scorer with six points, while Niall Sludden with four points and McCann (1-1) were joint highest scorers for the victors, for whom 12 players contributed scores.

Tyrone have now reversed a run of four consecutive defeats by Donegal between 2011 and 2015 by winning the last two provincial championship meetings between the sides, thereby denying their big Ulster rivals a seventh successive Ulster final appearance.

Relive the action from the Clones semi-final as it happened

Tyrone move up the gears

Donegal's Paddy McGrath challenges for a high ball with Tyrone's Mark Bradley
Donegal's Paddy McGrath challenges for a high ball with Tyrone's Mark Bradley

The first quarter of the game was evenly contested as two points apiece from McBrearty and Michael Murphy, his second a sensational score from long range, plus one from Martin Reilly, kept Donegal in contention.

The Red Hands matched the skill and intensity shown by their opponents in the early stages of a match played at a frenetic pace, with Sean Cavanagh seeing his right-foot drive well saved by Mark Anthony McGinley.

At the other end, Eoin McHugh fired wide of Niall Morgan's right-hand post with the goal seemingly at his mercy, a crucial miss for his side.

Tyrone dominated the remainder of the opening half, scoring seven points in a row, with nine players registering scores, including doubles for Peter Harte, Niall Sludden and man-of-the-match Padraig Hampsey.

Cavanagh was denied a goalscoring chance by the hand of Eamonn Doherty and then the Tyrone skipper landed his side's first free of the match before the break, his side's previous 11 points having come from open play.

Donegal, in contrast, were forced to introduce experienced hands Karl Lacey and Martin McElhinney from the bench prior to the interval in a bid to stem the tide.

Donegal unable to respond

Three minutes after the interval Mickey Harte's men emphasised their superiority when McCann's mis-hit shot found the back of the net after a surging run.

Mark Bradley received a black card for a foul on his marker as he made space to score a point but the holders continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over to consolidate their advantage.

Carroll rifled the ball home for Donegal just after the hour mark while McBrearty's finishing was one of the few positives from an otherwise hugely disappointing performance.

Tyrone could have added further three-pointers but Rory Brennan saw his effort well saved by McGinley and Ryan McHugh blocked substitute Darren McCurry's goal-bound shot on the line.

How they lined up

Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, P Hampsey; T McCann, C McCarron, P Harte; C Cavanagh, C McCann; K McGeary, N Sludden, R Brennan; M Bradley, S Cavanagh, M Donnelly.

Donegal: M A McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, E Ben Gallagher; R McHugh, F McGlynn, E Doherty, J McGee, C Thompson, M Carroll, M Reilly, J Brennan, P McBrearty, M Murphy, E McHugh.

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

Attendance: 22,609