HomeFootballDonegal beat Tyrone in extra-time in gripping Ulster SFC semi-final

Donegal beat Tyrone in extra-time in gripping Ulster SFC semi-final


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Having scored four goals to stun holders Derry last week, Donegal had a spring in their step as they returned to Celtic Park, but here they faced a well-drilled and patient Tyrone outfit determined to shut off the space the Oak Leafers had so readily offered up.

Celtic Park was again awash with green and gold, but it took a while for the crowd to come alive during what was a low-key first half, which ended with Tyrone leading by three.

While not as pulse-pounding as Donegal’s win over Derry, it was an absorbing dust-up between two of the province’s giants in front of 14,714 fans at Celtic Park.

In the opening 10 minutes, Niall O’Donnell opened Donegal’s account before Darren McCurry and Darragh Canavan frees for Tyrone, who welcomed Conn Kilpatrick back into midfield after two months out.

After Oisin Gallen and McCurry exchanged frees, Daire O Baoill – Donegal’s two-goal hero against Derry last week – injected some real quality into proceedings with a fine solo score from play to level it at three points apiece.

Tyrone – who conceded the Donegal kick-out in stark contrast to Derry last week – managed to edge ahead from there, though.

Despite having slogged through extra-time against Cavan the day after Donegal’s win over Derry, the Red Hands looked sharper in attack in the first half, as evidenced by Ciaran Daly’s superb score off the outside of his right boot after being picked out by Niall Morgan.

That was after Sean O’Donnell had scored to nudge Tyrone ahead, and while a Gallen free and Ciaran Thompson’s beauty from distance brought Donegal level once more, Tyrone gave themselves a platform at the break with the last three scores of the half.

The last of those was a striking demonstration of how Tyrone can build from Morgan’s kick-outs, with the Edendork club-man finding Brian Kennedy with a booming kick. From there, Tyrone moved it through the hands to allow Cathal McShane to fire over.

Morgan, however, breathed a huge sigh of relief just moments later when, after hitting a kick-out straight to Shane O’Donnell, Conall Devlin produced a brilliant block to stop a Gallen score.

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