Donegal survive Tyrone trouble
Ulster SFC: Donegal 1-13 Tyrone 1-10
RORY Gallagher expected a battle - and by God he got one!
He could hardly have been handed a tough assignment for his first Championship game as the Donegal manager and they needed every sinew of their big game nous to see off determined Tyrone.
It was every bit as tetchy, touchy and tense as they'd prepared for, but Donegal showed enough experience to dig out the win.
Both sides finished with 14 men, with Neil Gallagher and Seán Cavanagh dismissed, the former having picked up a pair of yellow cards and the latter getting a black card to follow an earlier booking.
The niggles were everywhere on a day when Justin McMahon spent most of the afternoon eyeballing Michael Murphy, the Donegal captain.
And yet it was Murphy who proved Donegal's match winner with three placed balls in the last 13 minutes.
Tyrone had three goal chances in the dying moments, but Paul Durcan saved from Peter Harte, Colm Cavanagh's flick came off the crossbar and Mattie Donnelly's hopeful snap shot flashed wide.
"Nobody for one minute thought it was going to be any different," Gallagher said.
Donegal raced four points ahead early on before Darren McCurry took a pass from Harte and found the back of Paul Durcan's goal.
Tyrone moved into the ascendancy, but Donegal led at the break thanks to Martin McElhinney's injury time goal.
Tempers boiled as the teams headed down the tunnel, with Tyrone selector Gavin Devlin pushing Murphy.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte dismissed a suggestion that the Central Competitions Controls Committee (CCCC) could review the footage from the skirmish.
He said: "I wouldn't expect that they should. I don't think it is anything too bad to be talking about. I think it is just the rough and tumble of the intensity of a Championship. I don't think anything untoward happened in it."
So to the qualifiers for the Red Hands. Harte said: "We are no strangers to that particular avenue. I think what I saw today gives me great confidence that we'll not be a bad place when the dust settles."
DONEGAL: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; R McHugh, K Lacey (0-1), F McGlynn (0-1); N Gallagher, O MacNiallais; M O'Reilly, M McElhinney (1-2), C Toye (0-2); P McBrearty (0-2), M Murphy (0-3, 2f, 1 '45), C McFadden (0-2).
Subs: M McHugh for O'Reilly (39), A Thompson for Toye (67), D Walsh for McElhinney (70), D McLaughlin for McFadden (70).
TYRONE: M O'Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee (0-1), C McCarron; R McNabb, J McMahon (0-1), P Harte; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-4, 3f); R Brennan, M Donnelly (0-1), B Tierney; D McCurry (1-0), C McShane, C McAliskey (0-3).
Subs: P McNulty for McShane (42 mins), T McCann for Tierney (55 mins), M Bradley for McCurry (63 mins), R O'Neill for McAliskey (67 mins).
REFEREE: J McQuillan (Cavan).
ulster sfc: donegal 1-13 tyrone 1-10