Tyrone’s return to competitive action against Donegal was as entertaining a game as I have seen at this stage of the year for quite a while. Both teams will take a lot of positives from their respective performances and supporters will go away feeling they got value for money for the entire seventy minutes.
For Donegal supporters it was the start of a new era under Jimmy Mc Guinness and judging by what they saw they will feel there is hope for the future. The Tir Chonaill men worked exceptionally hard and produced some fine defensive work which is something they are not noted for. They were sharp to the break, crisp in the tackle and did not mind “stepping over the line” once or twice when it was required.
From Tyrone’s point of view the game provided an ideal coaching blueprint for their season. Some of their play was outstanding and the way they eased into a seven point lead midway through the first half showed all their attacking flair and lots of defensive endeavour. With Cathal Mc Carron majestic at full back and the half back line buzzing it seemed there could be only one winner. However Donegal hit a purple patch in the last fifteen minutes of the half scoring eight unanswered points to lead by a single score at half time.
It is the analysis of this part of the game that will probably prove most beneficial to the management for later in the year but if the second half is anything to go by, it would appear those defensive shortcomings were well and truly addressed. Tyrone upped their work-rate and were much more in control in the second half with Kevin Hughes giving them a serious physical edge in the middle of the field and Brian Mc Guigan and Martin Penrose superb in attack. For a first game of the year it was well worth seeing and on the evidence of what we saw yesterday, there could be a lot more to come from Tyrone later in the year.