Tyrone and Donegal served up a highly entertaining game of hurling at Pairc Colmcille Carrickmore on Saturday evening with the Red Hand county coming out on top on a score line of 1-23 to 1-19.
Damian Casey will certainly receive many of the plaudits following his superb scoring display hitting 1-12 over the course of the seventy plus minutes. His last score, a sideline cut deep in injury time sealed the win and took Tyrone through to the final at Croke Park for the second year running. However this was no one man show with every man on the side putting in a superb shift over the course of the game. From goal keeper Conor Mc Elhatton to corner forward Sean Og Grogan this was a win based on hard work and determination and no shortage of skill.
CJ Mc Gourty and Casey were among the points early on but with seven minutes gone Donegal led 0-3 to 0-2. Casey then bagged 1-2 in the space of three minutes as his team mates responded to his prompting. Danny Cullen replied for Donegal before superb points from Casey, Chris Kearns and Lorcan Devlin put Tyrone 1-7 to 0-4 ahead. Casey added three further points to extend the Tyrone lead but Donegal popped over two scores from RonanMc Dermott to send the teams in with Tyrone leading at the break 1-11 to 1-8.
Donegal came out after the break all fired up but Tyrone showed their intent as they hit the first two scores of the half courtesy of Lorcan Devlin and Ruairi Slane. Ritchie Ryan found the net to get Donegal’s challenge under way and suddenly it was game on. Casey, Chris Kearns and Brian Mc Gurk kept the scoreboard ticking over for Tyrone but Donegal were now on top and momentum swung their way. Daire O Maoileidigh, Christopher Mc Dermott, Liam Mc Kinney and Gerard Gilmore pointed to narrow the gap to three. Mc Gourty and Mc Dermott swapped scores as Tyrone began to tire.
Donegal sensed an opportunity and with substitute Mc Kinney on fire they hit four unanswered points to tie the game as the clock showed six minutes remaining. Tyrone were forced to dig deep but dig deep they did. They had a “goal” disallowed for square ball but that seemed to inspire Michael Mc Shane’s side and with points from Casey, Aidan Kelly and Rory Weir they got the scores that sealed the win and took them through to the Nickey Rackard Cup final on a final score of Tyrone 1-23, Donegal 1-19.