Football League Division One North: Donegal hold off 14-man Tyrone 0-18 to 0-16 in thriller

Logan says Tyrone red card make task 'difficult' while Murphy 'happy to be back'

Donegal maintained their recent edge over Tyrone as they held off the 14-man Reds Hands 0-18 to 0-16 in a thrilling Football League Division One opener.

Paul Donaghy hit 0-10 in a sensational Tyrone debut but Donegal's third-quarter dominance at Omagh after Michael O'Neill's red card was crucial.

Donegal outscored the Red Hands 0-5 to 0-1 during that period and while Tyrone fought back, the visitors held on.

Tyrone had battled from three down to level at 0-10 to 0-10 by half-time.

However, the dismissal of Red Hands wing-back O'Neill by referee Joe McQuillan after he picked up a second yellow card for a high challenge on Ryan McHugh was a pivotal moment with Donegal hitting three unanswered scores before going to extend their advantage to 0-15 to 0-11 by the 56th minute.

Bonner praises Donegal 'energy'

Donaghy, called into the Tyrone panel by new managers Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher after helping Dungannon win the county title last year, produced a dazzling display of marksmanship, as he stroked over points with both feet.

However, Michael Murphy's six points were ultimately crucial to Donegal's success with Michael Langan, Patrick McBrearty, Jamie Brennan and Caolan McGonagle also hitting eye-catching points in a stunning exhibition of scoring at Healy Park.

Donegal's resolve has been questioned in some quarters following their shock Ulster Final defeat by Cavan last November.

Earlier this week, former Kerry star Marc O Se spoke of a perception that Declan Bonner's side possesses a "soft underbelly" in the new BBC Sport NI The GAA Social podcast but this performance was the appropriate response.

Bonner felt his team's display had "a lot of energy" but added that there had been "plenty of mistakes" as the sides returned to competitive action after the Covid-enforced break.

"It's first day out and the attitude of the players was top class and you'd have to be happy with that," added the Donegal boss.

Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher were appointed to the Tyrone job after Mickey Harte's departure in November
Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher were taking charge of the Tyrone senior team for the first time in a competitive game

Donaghy must now 'learn to live with attention'

Donaghy was quickly off the mark for Tyrone as he cancelled out Murphy's opener and went on to produce a tour de force of scoring.

His ability to kick points with both feet was wonderfully refreshing and best exhibited by his levelling point in first-half injury-time when he shimmied onto his left peg before stroking over his fifth score of the opening period.

His penultimate point in the 66th minute was arguably even better as he fired over from distance with the outside of his right boot.

Tyrone joint-manager Logan said O'Neill's sending off had made his team's task "difficult but even with that we thought we could hang in and stay within three which is a one-kick game and maybe unlock a goal chance or two".

"We just struggled a wee bit in front of the posts and didn't get enough scores," he added.

Aware that Donaghy's stunning debut will inevitably garner headlines all over the country, Logan was careful to avoid superlatives.

"He's presented himself well and the key now is that he builds on that. That he learns to live with that and learns to live with the attention.

"It's a long journey county football and it's good he got out of the traps so well."

Jamie Brennan is challenged by Tyrone debutant Cormac Munroe
Jamie Brennan hit a couple of points in Donegal's win in Omagh

Donegal side has 13 Ulster Final starters

Donegal started with 13 of the team that lined out against Cavan in November with Caolan Ward and Ciaran Thompson coming in for Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Eoin McHugh.

The exchanges were even early on as Tyrone cancelled out Murphy's opening point to move ahead before McBrearty missed the game's first goal chance as he blazed over after a quick Shaun Patton kickout again caught out the Reds - just as one had in the Ulster Championship meeting last November.

Donaghy's second point in the 16th minute put Tyrone one ahead for the third time before Donegal responded with five of the next six scores to move 0-8 to 0-5 up.

The Red Hands fought back to level at 0-8 to 0-8 and while Donegal twice edged one up again, Tyrone were back on terms by the interval.

It could have even better better for the home with Donegal keeper Patton brilliantly tipping a goalbound Kieran McGeary effort out for a 45 - although the placed ball was pointed by Niall Morgan.

O'Neill's red card a couple of minutes after the resumption was a huge moment as Donegal exploited the extra man to produce a scoring burst that proved decisive.

Jamie Brennan's 43rd-minute point with his left peg started the Donegal scoring sequence although Tyrone were still creating chances during the period as Frank Burns fired wide and a somewhat off-colour Conor McKenna saw an ambitious snapshot saved by Patton.

Donegal moved up four up on 56 minutes as Caolan McGonagle charged forward before stroking over a magnificent point and while Donaghy's sensational shooting saw the Red Hands get to within two on three occasions, that was as close as they got to Bonner's side.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1); R Brennan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; M Cassidy, P Harte, M O'Neill (0-1); F Burns, B Kennedy; P Donaghy (0-10, 5f, 1 45), M Donnelly, C Meyler (0-1); K McGeary (0-1); C McKenna (0-01), R Donnelly

Subs: M McKernan for McNamee 11, C Munroe for Kennedy half-time, M Bradley (0-1) for R Donnelly 42, N Sludden for Cassidy 58, D Canavan for McGeary 68

Donegal: S Patton; C Ward, N McGee, B McCole; R McHugh, P Brennan, P Mogan (0-1); H McFadden, C McGonagle (0-1); N O'Donnell (0-1), C Thompson (0-2), M Langan (0-1); P McBrearty (0-4, 2f), M Murphy (0-06, 3f), J Brennan (0-02)

Subs: D O Baoill for McFadden half-time, E McHugh for Ward 45, O Gallen for J Brennan 63, A McClean for P Brennan 63, E O'Donnell for Langan 68, E Doherty for O'Donnell 74

ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE RESULTS/FIXTURES

SATURDAY

Division One North
Tyrone0-16Donegal 0-18
Division One South
Kerry4-21Galway0-11
Division Two North
Mayo2-21Down1-11
Division Two South
Cork0-14Kildare2-12
Division Three North
Longford0-05Derry0-21
Fermanagh0-15Cavan0-14
Division Four North
Louth3-08Antrim1-15
Division Four North
Waterford0-10Carlow3-16

SUNDAY

Division One North
MonaghanvArmaghEnniskillen - 15:00 BST
Division One South
RoscommonvDublinDr Hyde Park - 13:45
Division Two North
MeathvWestmeathNavan - 15:45
Division Two South
ClarevLaoisEnnis - 15:45
Division Three South
WicklowvOffalyAughrim - 14:00
Division Four North
SligovLeitrimMarkievicz Park - 15:00

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