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red hand victory Nightmare day for Michael Murphy as missed penalty and sending off help Tyrone end Donegal’s summer

Tyrone 0-23 Donegal 1-14

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Michael Murphy of Donegal leaves the field after being sent off during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Michael Murphy of Donegal leaves the field after being sent off during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Michael Murphy of Donegal leaves the field after being sent off during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

It was only in the final few minutes that the destination of this brilliant Ulster semi-final was truly known.

Eventually Tyrone scorched off into the distance with Donegal’s brave effort, who were down to 14 men for more than half the game, no longer enough to keep Tyrone in sight. It goes down in the record books as a six-point win for Tyrone in Enniskillen and they bounce into a provincial decider but that is not close to being the whole story of the game.

If the early focus was on the fitness of Michael Murphy, then he was centre stage for two of the game’s biggest moments, his penalty miss and his sending off.

Donegal were two to the good when they cleverly worked their way out of an aggressive Tyrone push that had them pinned inside their own half. They escaped through goalkeeper Shaun Patton and seconds later, had carved Tyrone open. Rory Brennan hauled down Ciaran Thompson with a goal chance on.

Brennan was binned and Joe McQuillan awarded a penalty which gave Murphy the chance to put his side five up. However, his effort clipped the post and went wide. Tyrone, bouyed by their escape, clipped over the next two scores of the game despite being down to 14 men.

The drama kept coming. Within a couple of minutes of his miss from the spot, Murphy walked for a pull on a loose ball that saw him catch the excellent Kieran McGeary. Murphy was already on a yellow for an earlier incident and McQuillan followed up with a black to see Donegal go down to 14 men. It was a crushing blow, especially as they had already lost Neil McGee through injury. However the sight of a Tyrone player calling for a card didn’t sit well with many.

Tyrone kicked the last point of the half to take a 0-8 to 0-7 lead in at the break and leave them within sight of an Ulster final.

With the second half just a few minutes old, Tiernan McCann put three between the sides, the largest gap there had been to that point, and it looked like the writing was on the wall.

Immediately, Donegal swept up the field with Caolan McGonigle finishing a brilliant move. Tyrone went three clear again but Donegal, who were playing effective and smart counter attacking football, reeled them back in to be level again. By the water break, Tyrone were just a point to the good.

A McBrearty free approaching the hour mark left the minimum between the teams but Tyrone slowly took over. Conor McKenna made a good impact off the bench, as did McCann, who finished with three points.

And even though Kieran McGeary picked up a black that saw Tyrone also finish with 14 men, Donegal's tank was empty. Michael Langan and McBrearty missed frees they so badly needed while Mattie Donnelly made hay on some tired Donegal legs.

Tyrone kicked the last six points of the day to run out deserved winners and set up an Ulster final date with Monaghan.

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Scorers -

Tyrone – D McCurry 0-7 (3f), K McGeary, T McCann, N Sludden 0-3 each, M Donnelly 0-2, C McKenna, F Burns, P Harte, C Meyler, C McShane (1f) 0-1 each.

Donegal – P McBrearty 0-4 (2f), C McGonigle 1-0, M Murphy (2f), N O’Donnell, M Langan (1f), J Brennan 0-2 each, P Mogan, C Thompson 0-1.

TEAMS:

TYRONE: N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; M O’Neill, F Burns, P Harte; B Kennedy, C Kilpatrick; K McGeary, N Sludden, C Meyler; D McCurry, M Donnelly, R Brennan SUBS: T McCann for Brennan (HT), C McKenna for Kilpatrick (46), B McDonnell for Kennedy (53), C McShane for O’Neill (62), N Kelly for McKernan (66).

DONEGAL: S Patton; B McCole, N McGee, E Ban Gallagher; R McHugh, O McFadden Ferry, P Mogan; H McFadden, C McGonigle; C Thompson, N O’Donnell, M Langan; P McBrearty, M Murphy, J Brennan SUBS: S McMenamin for McGee (5), P Brennan for McFadden Ferry (45), O MacNiallais for McFadden (46), E McHugh for Brennan (62), A McClean for Mogan (69).

REF: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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