FEARGAL Logan and Brian Dooher’s first game in charge of Tyrone ended in a two-point defeat to a highly impressive Donegal team in tonight’s Division One opener at Healy Park.
Yet the new management team will undoubtedly take plenty of positives from the game – none more so than a stunning debut performance from Paul Donaghy which yielded ten points – though they ultimately ended up empty-handed against Declan Bonner’s side.
Perhaps the game’s defining moment was Michael O’Neill’s dismissal for a second yellow after 36 minutes of play, an unduly harsh punishment after a challenge on Ryan McHugh.
It was no coincidence that Tyrone struggled for the remainder of the third quarter, especially as Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton seemed to find it significantly easier to find a teammate from restarts.
Donegal had brought their shooting boots, with Jamie Brennan, Ciaran Thompson and Paddy McBrearty landing some super points from distance as they crossed the finish line with a 0-18 to 0-16 victory despite some brilliant late points from Donaghy in his first game for the Tyrone seniors.
Played behind closed doors at Healy Park, Tyrone started reasonably well with Conor Meyler a particularly influential figure in the first-half. Ronan McNamee had to go off as a precaution early on, which was a blow, and Donegal were inspired by the evergreen Michael Murphy as they settled themselves into the contest.
Some of Tyrone’s attacks came to nothing and their shooting was particularly wayward for a long stretch in the second-half, but Donaghy was knocking over the frees while Kieran McGeary, Michael O’Neill and Conor Meyler also got on the scoresheet.
It was 0-10 apiece at the half-time interval, but O’Neill’s sending off had an unsettling effect on the team and Donegal moved into a three-point lead with Tyrone coughing up a number of frees which were subsquently punished by McBrearty and Murphy.
Tyrone went for broke in the closing minutes with subs Mark Bradley, who hit a sublime late point, and Darragh Canavan making a positive impact, but in the end it wasn’t enough to get the victory.
Monday’s Tyrone Herald will have a full match report and reaction from this evening’s match