Donegal 1-13 Tyrone 1-10

Anglo-Celt Cup holders Donegal scored a fourth successive Ulster Senior Football Championship win over Tyrone as they defeated the Red Hands by 1-13 to 1-10 at Ballybofey.

Darren McCurry fired home a Tyrone goal after 10 minutes and Sean Cavanagh put them ahead in the 33rd minute.

But Martin McElhinney grabbed a Donegal goal as they went in at the break with a 1-08 to 1-06 lead.

The home side finished strongly, despite the dismissal of Neil Gallagher, with Michael Murphy converting three frees.

Donegal, playing into the wind, rattled off four points inside the opening eight minutes, with Frank McGlynn, Paddy McBrearty, Christy Toye and Martin McElhinney all finding the target as they swept forward in numbers.

Skipper Michael Murphy was a peripheral figure throughout the opening half, unable to escape the Velcro-style approach of marker Justin McMahon, but others gave the defending champions all the offensive thrust they needed at that stage of the game.

But the tie took a twist in the tenth minute. Tyrone had been almost invisible as an attacking force, but a touch of Darren McCurry magic changed all that.

He collected Peter Harte’s pass to rifle an angled shot past Paul Durcan and the Red Hands were right back in the game.

McElhinney’s excellent points made it 0-06 to 1-00 after 13 minutes, but with Harte excelling on broken ball around the middle and Sean Cavanagh playing a supremely effective role from a deep position, Tyrone began to perform with enhanced conviction.

They stretched their opponents along the flanks and enjoyed some success in picking holes in the massed defence, with McMahon popping up for a point and Cavanagh landing a free.

Donegal went 15 minutes without a score before Toye punched over a point, but once again, a Red Hand flourish saw them hit four in a row, with Harte sending Cavanagh in to give them the lead for the first time in the 33rd minute.

But two minutes later, McElhinney smashed home a goal, hitting the back of the net on the rebound after Mickey O’Neill had saved from Odhran MacNiallais.

Donegal went in at the break with a 1-08 to 1-06 lead, but the sides were level within three minutes of the restart, Cavanagh and Connor McAliskey finding the range into the wind.

Holding possession and biding their time, Tyrone were camped in the opposition half for long spells, but this was the perfect scenario for Rory Gallagher’s side, who were able to use their pace and precision on the breakaway to go level again through McBrearty and Karl Lacey.

McBrearty was then denied by a brilliant O’Neill save, with McGlynn blazing wide from the rebound.

Going into the final quarter, an intriguing tie was finely balanced, level at 1-10 apiece after McAliskey had nailed a couple of points in quick succession.

Murphy finally got his name on the scoresheet with a 45-metre free and he stretched the lead out to two with 10 left on the clock.

Neil Gallagher picked up a second yellow card with eight minutes to play and Tyrone lost Sean Cavanagh after he received a second caution four minutes later.

But it was Donegal who reached the winning post with another Murphy free, as they held out in the face a furious Tyrone rally in the dying moments which saw Colm Cavanagh fist the ball against a post.

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee, R McHugh, K Lacey (0-01), F McGlynn (0-01), N Gallagher, M McElhinney (1-02), M O’Reilly, O MacNiallais, C Toye (0-02), P McBrearty (0-02), M Murphy (0-03, 3f), C McFadden (0-02)

Subs: M McHugh for O’Reilly, A Thompson for Toye, D Walsh for McElhinney, D McLaughlin for McFadden

Tyrone: M O’Neill, A McCrory, R McNamee (0-01), C McCarron, R McNabb, Justin McMahon (0-01), P Harte, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-04, 3f), R Brennan, M Donnelly (0-01), B Tierney, D McCurry (1-00), C McShane, C McAliskey (0-03)

Subs: P McNulty for McShane, T McCann for Tierney, M Bradley for McCurry, R O’Neill for McAliskey

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

VIDEO: How far can Donegal go?