Ulster Senior Football Championship Final
Tyrone 0-13 Donegal 0-11
Tyrone staged an unlikely comeback with three spectacular injury-time points to capture a 14th Ulster SFC title amidst dramatic scenes at Clones.
Donegal, appearing in a sixth final in a row, led for most of the game and on three occasions were able to regain the lead when Tyrone drew level in a much-improved second half.
Michael Murphy missed a long-range free in the 74th minute to put Donegal in front after Sean Cavanagh had equalised with a superb point from the wing.
Tyrone, who struggled for long spells, seized their moment.
Peter Harte scored an outstanding left-footed point from distance in the 75th minute to put Tyrone in front for the first time since the 10th minute.
With six minutes injury-time signalled there was still time for a Donegal equaliser, but Tyrone again broke down the field with last year’s All-Ireland U21 skipper Kieran McGeary stroking over a point with the outside of his boot to give Tyrone a first Anglo Celt since 2010.
In front of a packed 33,433 crowd the first half was a major disappointment. Even allowing for the sweltering conditions, the game lacked pace, purpose and direction, with seven wides in the first 10 minutes. Niall Morgan and Cathal McShane kicked Tyrone into a two point lead before Donegal got motoring with four points in eight minutes.
Paddy McBrearty’s free and Michael Murphy’s 45 drew Donegal level before Ryan McHugh kicked two of his three first-half points.
Tyrone conceded all the short kickouts to Donegal and allowed them to build from the back – and got punished.
Peter Harte was designated to track McHugh, but the unmarked Kilcar man kicked three right-footed points from distance with Tyrone hesitant and unsure which runners to pick up.
Niall Sludden’s well-worked score was brief relief for Tyrone with McHugh pointing again to put Donegal 0-5 to 0-3 ahead after 22 minutes.
Cathal McCarron got forward for a rare point after a good exchange with Peter Harte but Donegal were in no mood to surrender the momentum and Odhran MacNiallais stroked over a long-range score to re-establish their two-point lead.
Ryan McHugh again caused havoc with his running and won a free which McBrearty converted to put Rory Gallagher’s side 0-7 to 0-4 ahead on the half hour mark.
Tyrone kicked nine first-half wides (Donegal had six) and dropped four balls short in a really poor 35 minutes for the Red Hands.
Worse was to follow for them when Mattie Donnelly, one of their leaders, was black-carded following a collision with Eoin McHugh.
Cathal McShane also was dismissed for a black-card trip in stoppage time, forcing Mickey Harte to make two substitutions before the interval.
One of those subs, Rory Brennan, was instrumental in the turnaround.
He won turnovers, attacked Donegal at every opportunity and helped swing the momentum Tyrone’s way.
Paddy McBreaty kicked the opening score of the second half after 15 seconds to put Donegal 0-8 to 0-4 ahead and it looked ominous for Tyrone.
However they drew level after 53 minutes with four points in a row from Brennan, Harte, Cavanagh and Morgan’s free.
A poor game caught fire in the last quarter once it hit 0-8 each. The heavyweights slugged it out, trading points with Donegal on three occasions nudging ahead and three times Tyrone hit back.
Christy Toye’s well-worked point looked like a winner in the 69th minute for Donegal, but it proved to be their last with three scores of fabulous quality putting Tyrone through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Scorers for Donegal: R McHugh 0-3, P McBrearty 0-3 (2fs), O MacNiallais 0-2, M Murphy 0-2 (1f, 1 ’45’), C Toye 0-1.
Scorers for Tyrone: S Cavanagh 0-3, P Harte 0-2, N Morgan 0-2 (2fs), C McCarron, N Sludden, C McShane, D McCurry, R Brennan, K McGeary 0-1 each.
Donegal: MA McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, C Gillespie; R McHugh, K Lacey, F McGlynn; R Kanagh, O MacNiallais; A Thompson, E McGee, E McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy, M O’Reilly.
Subs: M McElhinney for Kavanagh (45), M McHugh for Thompson (53), C Toye for McGlynn (63), EB Gallagher for Gillespie (66), A Thompson for E McHugh (67), C McFadden for McBrearty (70).
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, J McMahon, P Harte; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; C McShane, N Sludden, R McNabb; C McAlliskey, S Cavanagh, R O’Neill.
Subs: R Brennan for Donnelly (BC, 32), M Bradley for McShane (35), J Munroe for O’Neill (53), D McCurry for McAlliskey (63), K McGeary for McMahon (70).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).
Report: Orla Bannon.