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Donegal’s Jamie Brennan and Tyrone’s Conor Meyler.
Donegal’s Jamie Brennan and Tyrone’s Conor Meyler.
Image: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

McKenna grabs 1-2 on AFL return but Donegal have too much for Tyrone

Jame Brennan and Ryan McHugh were central as Donegal deservedly defeated Mickey Harte’s men in Division 1.
Oct 18th 2020, 6:01 PM 16,433 5

Donegal 2-17

Tyrone 2-13

DONEGAL LEAPFROGGED ABOVE Tyrone in the Division 1 table after enjoying a four-point win over their Ulster rivals in Ballybofey this afternoon.

Despite the defeat, Mickey Harte will be pleased with the performance of Conor McKenna, who grabbed 1-2 on his first senior appearance for Tyrone following his return from a six-year AFL stint with Essendon.

The 2014 Tyrone minor played about 50 minutes at centre-forward, winning an early spot-kick that Darren McCurry converted, before being moved inside where he caused Donegal a host of problems in the final quarter.

McKenna clipped over two fine scores, buried a stunning goal and created a number of scoring opportunities with his power. 

His addition and quick acclimatisation to the game is a major boost for Tyrone who are without injured talisman Cathal McShane for the season.

Tyrone finished the game with 13 men after the final quarter dismissals of Frank Burns and Rory Brennan. Burns picked up a yellow and black, while Brennan received his marching orders late in the day for a straight red.

How much stock we can put into this game remains to be seen. The sides renew acquaintances in Ulster in two weeks’ time so both Harte and Declan Bonner surely held some cards close to their chest today.

Tyrone flooded the defence with bodies and utilised Frank Burns in the role formerly occupied by recently retired midfielder Colm Cavanagh. They were undone by some intelligent attacking play by Donegal, who struck the net in either half through Peardar Mogan and the electric Jamie Brennan.

Brennan, Niall O’Donnell and Ryan McHugh – scorer of three from play – shone in the Donegal forward line. As usual Michael Murphy dictated matters in the middle third and added six points for good measure.

The game came to life quickly as Brennan fired over an early brace for Donegal.

Corner-back Liam Rafferty replied for Tyrone, the first of two scores he’d send over in the first-half. Murphy and Conall McCann (mark) swapped scores before Donegal grabbed a goal through Mogan.

Mogan left a pair of Red Hand defenders behind him with a neat sidestep and rifled a strike past Niall Morgan. Tyrone responded through a Frank Burns score from an advanced mark and then found the net themselves.

McKenna was deemed to have been fouled by corner-back Stephen McMenamin and Curry struck home the penalty to draw his side level. 

Donegal’s response was clinical. They took control of the game and hit four of the next five scores to move 1-8 to 1-4 in front.

peadar-mogan-scores-a-goal Peadar Mogan's first-half goal. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Tyrone looked well-drilled when it came to scoring from marks and Michael McKernan sent over their third of the half in the 28th minute. That helped them reduce the deficit to three at the interval. 

Murphy and McHugh combined to set-up Brennan for a goal five minutes after the restart. Brennan finished low as he bore down on goal. It was calmness personified.

He was fouled twice in the next five minutes for a pair of Murphy frees that pushed the hosts five clear. McKenna, now playing at 14, powered through to drive over his second score. 

The visitors lost Burns and Brennan to reds but grabbed a second goal through McKenna in stoppage-time. 

Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy 0-6 (0-5f), Jamie Brennan 1-2, Peadar Mogan 1-0, Ryan McHugh 0-3, Niall O’Donnell and Ciaran Thompson (0-2f) 0-2 each, Caolan McGonigle and Andrew McClean 0-1 each. 

Scorers for Tyrone: Conor McKenna 1-2, Darren McCurry 1-1 (0-1f), Liam Rafferty 0-2, Conall McCann, Frank Burns (0-1m), Michael McKiernan (0-1m), Mattie Donnelly, Kieran McGeary, David Mulgrew and Niall Morgan (0-1 45) 0-1 each. 

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Donegal

1. Shaun Patton

2. Eoghan Ban Gallagher
3. Neil McGee
4. Stephen McMenamin

5. Ryan McHugh
6. Paul Brennan
7. Jeaic McKelvey

8. Hugh McFadden
21. Caolan McGonigle

10. Peadar Mogan
11. Niall O’Donnell
12. Ciaran Thompson

13. Jamie Brennan
14. Michael Murphy 
15. Oisin Gallen 

Subs

24. Andrew McClean for Gallen (45)
20. Paddy McGrath for Brennan (63)
22. Caolan Ward for Gallagher (73)

Tyrone

1. Niall Morgan

2. Liam Rafferty
3. Ronan McNamee
4. Rory Brennan

5. Tiernan McCann
6. Kieran McGeary
7. Michael McKernan

8. Padraig Hampsey
9. Frank Burns

10. Mattie Donnelly
11. Conor McKenna 
12. Darren McCurry

26. Niall Sludden
14. Conall McCann
15. Conor Meyler

Subs

19. David Mulgrew for Sludden (ht)
24. Michael O’Neill for Burns (46)
25. Ronan O’Neill for Conall McCann (48)
23. Daire O Baoil for McKelvey (60)
22. Ben McDonnell for Hampsey (61)

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Kevin O'Brien

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