Michael Donoghue who helped Donegal to victory over Tyrone on Saturday PICTURE: Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Donegal banished the wintertime blues with a swashbuckling performance and a ten point win over Tyrone in the Nickey Cup semi-final in O’Donnell Park, on Saturday afternoon.
Gerard Gilmore and Richie Ryan scored the goals and Jack O’Loughlin posted ten points to book Donegal a place in the Nickey Rackard final next Saturday. They will face Mayo in the final.
This was a superb performance from Donegal, who lined out without ace forwards Declan Coulter, David Flynn and Bernard Lafferty.
Ryan’s golden first half strike levelled a tie that Tyrone had edged in the opening quarter as they led 1-7 to 0-8 at the first water break.
Wing-forward Kiefer Morgan waltzed through the Donegal defence six minutes in for the goal that propelled the Red Hands into a 1-2 to 0-3 lead.
And while Ronan McDermott and Ciaran Mathewson were showing early promise for the locals, Morgan’s goal separated the sides on the quarter hour mark. Tyrone led 1-6 to 0-6 at this stage after McDermott, Mathewson, Gerard Gilmore, Joe Boyle and Jack O’Loughlin had raised the Donegal white flags.
Sharpshooter Damian Casey, who ended the game with a 14 point tally, Conor Grogan, Morgan and Bryan McGuirk scored the Tyrone points.
Bryan McGuirk on the resumption doubled the Tyrone advantage with a fine point.
But with O’Loughlin stepping up Donegal were soon back in front thanks to two converted frees.
However, Casey refused to read the stript as he landed two monster points to restore Tyrone’s two point advantage once more.
But with the strong breeze on their tails and McDermott, Mathewson and Danny Cullen dictating, the locals took a firm grip. In the space of the three minutes courtesy of two super Gilmore goals Donegal had opened up an eight point lead as they led 3-14 to 1-16, with 44 minutes on the clock.
And by the second water break thanks to Gilmore, O’Loughlin and Kevin Kealy, the margin was out to 11points - 3-18 to 1-16 - with a little over a quarter hour of normal time remaining.
The game as a contest was now well and truly over and Donegal with a bit of swagger knocked over seven more points with subs Lee Hendersn and Josh Connolly getting their names on the scoresheet.
Casey and Cian Ferguson with late points brought the Tyrone tally to 21.
But there was no doubt about the winner. And it is Donegal who will face Mayo, in next weekend's final. Mayo beat Leitrim in the other semi-final also played on Saturday in Castlebar.
DONEGAL: Liam White (0-1); Gavin Browne, Stephen Gillespie, Mark Callaghan; Joe Boyle (0-2), Sean McVeigh,Jack O’Loughlin (0-10,7f); Michael Donoghue, Ronan McDermott (0-2); Gerard Gilmore (2-4), Danny Cullen, Kevin Kealy (0-1); Conor O’Grady, Richie Ryan (1-0), Ciaran Mathewson (0-3). Subs: Lee Henderson (0-1) for C O’Grady 48; Josh Connolly (0-1) for R Ryan 50; Conor Parke for G Browne 63; Stephen Doherty for M Donoghue 65; Ciaran Bradley for C Mathewson 68.
TYRONE: Conor McElhatton; Ruairi Devlin, Dean Rafferty, Sean Paul McKenna; Sean Donaghey, Chris Kearns, Cormac Munroe; Tiarnan Morgan, Chris Cross; Conor Grogan (0-1), Bryan McGuirk (0-3), Kiefer Morgan (1-1); Brannon Molloy, Damien Casey (0-14,12f), Matthew Mulgrew. Subs: Lorcan Devlin for C Cross 25; Cian Ferguson (0-2) for Bryan McGuirk 34; John McGuirk for M Mulgrew 51; Justin Kelly for B Molloy 54.
REFEREE: Colm McDonald (Antrim)
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