National Hurling League Division 3A
Donegal 1-10 Tyrone 0-24
The Tyrone Senior Hurlers maintained their impressive start to the Division 3A National Hurling League, at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny this afternoon, when a controlled opening half display eased them to a comfortable eleven point victory over Donegal.
In doing so, Tom Magill’s improving charges avenged last season’s agonising Lory Meagher Cup Final defeat to the Tir Chonaill men, but more importantly is the fact that they now sit proudly, at the top of the table with four points from their opening two outings on a day Justin Kelly, Aidan Kelly and teenager Damian Casey turned in notable shifts for the winners.
Sean Paul Begley, Sean Og Grogan and Mike O’Gorman also led by example throughout. Points from the Kelly’s and Seamus O’Hagan edged Tyrone into an early 0-3 to 0-0 lead and, by the time Kevin Campbell registered the hosts opening point on 20 minutes, it was evident that were facing an uphill struggle against a purposeful Tyrone side. Their cause wasn’t helped by the absence of key figures such as Michael McGee and Jamesie Donnelly and, while Stephen Donnelly was among the Tyrone absentees through injury, the Red Hands demonstrated superior skills on their way to a commanding 0-15 to 0-2 half time. Niall Campbell with a close range free on 27 minutes offering token resistance, as centre half forward Justy Kelly supplied six free conversions to augment a trio of points from Casey and Kelly junior. Grogan finding the target twice in that opening period.
Within five minutes of the second half, Tyrone moved into a 0-18 to 0-3 lead before Donegal enjoyed a mini revival of sorts, as they reduced the gap to seven points. Niall Campbell crashed home a 47th minute goal, but it was indicative of the Donegal attack that Campbell was to contribute 1-8 to their final tally. In contrast Tyrone lost their shape and despite leading 0-20 to 1-10, they were forced to soak up a lot of pressure having had two players dismissed within six minutes of each other approaching the 60 minute mark. Donegal also lost the services of corner back Shane Gallen to a red card incident before Casey steadied Tyrone nerves with a succession of late points.
Fingal provide Tyrone’s opposition at Swords next Sunday afternoon. The Dubliners lost to Monaghan this afternoon, but with home advantage they will be looking to get their title challenge back on track. Tyrone though will travel looking to preserve their ambitions of successive promotions.