Sports

Tyrone outplayed by Ulster rivals Donegal

Thursday, 23 March 2017

TYRONE captain Sean Cavanagh has said the team has a duty to come back stronger and prove their worth to their loyal supporters, following a disappointing defeat to Ulster rivals Donegal.

Donegal...0-12
Tyrone...0-6

The Red Hands slumped to a six points reversal at Ballybofey, their first loss of the current campaign, and Cavanagh is struggling to find answers to the many pressing questions which have followed.

“We really have to get over this and prove to our supporters and ourselves that we're better than this. It's going to be a couple of days of having the head down and trying to wonder what happened. It's a cliche but we have to fix it this week and go at Mayo with everything we have," he said.

"It's hard to put your finger on it, the preparation was done and we had a good second-half performance against Cavan. There's something about this place, every time it seems to be raining and windy, it just seems difficult to get points out of it.

“There is that parochial element that Donegal seem to thrive on. You have to hold your hands up, they were just

a much superior outfit and that's given us something to think about because we thought we were further on that what we showed tonight.

"It's hard to put your finger on why. We're used to training in Garvaghey in the rain and rain but guys were just making uncharacteristic errors. We were slipping and sliding and handling wasn't good."

The treble All-Ireland winner was at a loss to explain the disappointing display by the team, which struggled to get going at any stage of a tetchy encounter.

"It just felt on the field that we couldn't get up to the pace of the game. It's head-scratching stuff because we train very hard every night and we had a spring in our step over the past couple of years.

"To come like a place like this and let ourselves down, you do feel sorry for the supporters because they come here on the back of high hopes. We haven't lost in the league in a long time and to not give a good account was very disappointing and demoralising."

And Cavanagh felt Tyrone's task was made even more difficult by a rash of skirmishes in the second half, which broke the momentum of the game and assisted Donegal's attempts to hold on to their lead.

"It's tough because with all the off-the-ball stuff, it probably suited Donegal more than it suited ourselves. The more we tried to get the game moving the more off-the-ball stuff happened.

“That's part and parcel of the game. The reality was, Donegal had a much stronger first-half than we did and it was always going to be difficult to get back into the game barring a goal or something like that.

It was just something that didn't happen for us.

"Everyone's disappointed, nobody's really talking very much [in the changing room]. It's time to lick our wounds and take stock of what's just happened. We've two games left in the league and we have to respond."

This was a chastening lesson for some of Tyrone's newer breed of player who are unaccustomed to defeat with Tyrone. Perhaps in the long-term it will stand to them.

"I can't remember the last time we got a result out of place. The younger guys really have to learn from this. There's a few guys who haven't experienced days like this, who haven't experienced dogfights like this.

"We failed tonight, we failed miserably. Maybe tonight will help a bit of character and fight because if it doesn't maybe we're not as far along as we think we are."

Tyrone host Mayo at Healy Park this weekend, and it's a crucial game for the Red Hands as they bid to put their title challenge back on track.

"You always have motivation out there but possibly against Mayo it will be more about putting this performance behind us," said Cavanagh.

It was Cavanagh who opened the scoring from a free, but Ciaran Thompson's two points had the home side in front, and they went two ahead when Frank McGlynn broke through for a well taken point.

Peter Harte brought Tyrone level with a couple of scores, after Eoin McHugh and Rory Brennan had traded points.

Corner back Paddy McGrath got a rare score, before Ryan McHugh displayed class as he regained the lead for his side.

Donegal came strong in the second quarter, reeling off five in a row to take a firm grip on the contest.

Michael Murphy converted a free and scores by Hugh McFadden and Thompson, with his third, had them 0-9 to 0-4 ahead at the interval.

Cavanagh narrowed the gap with the first score of the second half, but that was to be Tyrone's last until stoppage time.

Donegal countered again for substitute Cian Mulligan and Ryan McHugh to fine the target for a six points advantage.

Tyrone were struggling to craft scoring opportunities, and when McFadden landed his second of the night, the visitors faced a huge task, and one they were ultimately unable to meet.

Donegal scorers: Ciaran Thomposton 0-3, Ryan McFadden, Ryan McHugh 0-2 each, Frank McGlynn, Paddy McGrath, Michael Murphy (free), Eoin McHugh, Cian Mulligan 0-1 each.

Tyrone scorers: Sean Cavanagh 0-3 (2 frees), Peter Harte 0-2 (1 free), Rory Brennan 0-1.

Donegal: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamonn Doherty; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Frank McGlynn, Paul Brennan; Michael Murphy, Ciaran Thompson; Martin O'Reilly, Eoin McHugh, Ryan McHugh; Micheál Carroll, Hugh McFadden, Jamie Brennan. 

Subs: Cian Mulligan for McGlynn, Mark McHugh for McGrath (BC), Martin McElhinney for McFadden, Michael Langan for P.Brennan, Brendan McCole for J.Brennan.

Tyrone: Mickey O'Neill; Cathal McShane, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Tiernan McCann, Justin McMahon, Rory Brennan; Colm Cavanagh, Declan McClure; Niall Sludden, Kieran McGeary, Peter Harte; Mark Bradley, Sean Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly. 

Subs: Conor Meyler for McShane, Pádraig Hampsey for McClure, Aidan McCrory for McMahon, Ronan O'Neill for Brennan, Johnny Munroe for McCarron.

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