Donegal’s Michael Murphy’s produces late flourish to sink Tyrone

Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly and Donegal's Paddy McGrath
Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly and Donegal's Paddy McGrath

Michael Murphy struck with three late points to give Donegal a 1-13 to 1-10 victory over Tyrone in a highly charged preliminary-round clash at wet and windy Ballybofey.

The sides were level with 13 minutes left before Murphy, who had yet to score, took centre stage.

Donegal’s Neil Gallagher and Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh were sent off late on as the Anglo-Celt Cup holders booked a quarter-final meeting with Armagh in four weeks.

In poor conditions at MacCumhaill Park, an injury-time Martin McElhinney goal ensured the victors of a 1-8 to 1-6 advantage at the end of an evenly-contested opening period.

Tyrone had been written off after losing a league match by 10 points to the same opponents in the National League seven weeks ago, but they were much improved and pushed Donegal all the way.

They had late goal chances, Colm Cavanagh’s flick coming off the crossbar and Paul Durcan saving from Peter Harte, but must head into the All-Ireland qualifiers.

Donegal captain Murphy described himself as ‘relieved’ to come through the tie.

“It was by no means a polished performance by any stretch of the imagination but to win it and get into the first round proper is all that counts,” said Murphy.

“We will look at the game again and the faults and we will try and put them right for the next day out because a performance like that won’t cut it next time out against Armagh.”

Donegal scored an unanswered eight points to defeat Tyrone in the Ulster Minor Football Championship Preliminary Round.

Donegal got off to a dream start with Conor Doherty’s goal and a point inside the opening three minutes.

Tyrone responded well and had their best spell of the game in the second quarter to take a 0-8 to 1-3 lead towards the end of the first half.

Donegal hit two late first-half points to draw level at 1-5 to 0-8 at the break – and they scored six unanswered points in the second half.