Captain Casey spearheads Tyrone triumph

Donegal marksman Lee Henderson
Gerry Maguire

Nicky Rackard Cup: Donegal 0-11 Tyrone 1-12

IT is one of oldest and most basic tactics in gaelic games and it is called the two man full-forward.

Cyril Farrell and Galway used it to devastating effect against Kilkenny in the 1986 All-Ireland semi-final and Tyrone did something similar on Saturday as the deservedly edged out Donegal in this crisply contested affair at Letterkenny.

Damien Casey and Gerard Gilmore had oceans of space inside the Tir Conaill defence and Casey struck for a truly magnificent goal for the Red Hands in the 11th minute.

Meanwhile Sean Og Grogan was switched to midfield and he gave the Red Hands the requisite edge in this vital sector.

But for Tyrone's talismanic captain Casey there was simply “no way that Tyrone was going to lose this one.”

“In the last two games we just did not play in the opening half. We had a two man full-forward line today and it worked well.

“Justin Kelly gave me a great ball for the goal.

“There is great character in this squad and there was no way that we were coming out of this match without a victory.”

Tyrone were far sharper and hungrier in the opening half as Donegal struggled to make use of the breeze.

The Red Hands also looked more organised in defence as they repeatedly smothered Tir Conaill's sorties.

The Red Hands struck decisively after just 10 seconds when full-forward Sean Og Grogan struck confidently over the bar.

Donegal teenager Jack O'Loughlin replied for the home side and that signalled a closely-contested opening quarter.

Respective marksmen Lee Henderson and Casey then swapped scores before Casey struck with devastating effect in the 11th minute.

Donegal full-back was struggling to contain the multi-talented Casey who picked up a Justin Kelly pass, swivelled and hit a magnificent shot into the Tir Conaill net.

Casey's cracker put Tyrone ahead by 1-3 to 0-3.

Casey followed up with another sublime strike from the sideline.

Donegal hit back through midfielder Sean McVeigh and Matthewson to leave Tyrone leading by 1-5 to 0-6 by the 30th minute.

But a quick free from Danny Cullen found Joe Boyle and the big centre-back converted.

Twenty seconds later the elegant Ciaran Matthewson levelled matters but the inevitable Casey gave the Red Hands a half-time lead of 1-6 to 0-8.

Tyrone had the benefit of the breeze in the second-half and never looked like surrendering their lead.

Casey continued to slot over the points with aplomb and a disappointing Donegal could only add on three pointed frees from Lee Henderson.

A deserved victory for Mattie Lennon's man who showed the greater hunger and sharpness throughout and Donegal's cup of woe was complete when they lost centre back Joe Boyle through a second yellow card in the 69th minute.

Donegal: D Laverty, P Doherty, J Donnelly, M Callaghan; J Downey, J Boyle (0-1), N Cleary; D Cullen, S McVeigh (0-1); J O'Loughlin (0-1), E McDermott, L Henderson (0-6, 5f); C Matthewson (0-2), R McDermott, B Lafferty.

Subs: S Gillespie for B Lafferty (56)

Tyrone: J Devlin, C McNally, M O'Gorman, M Grogan; P McHugh, D Begley, T Morgan; J Kelly (0-2) A Kelly; M Winters, D Casey, (1-7, 5f), C Cross; C Grogan (0-2), S Og Grogan (0-1), G Gilmore.

Subs: M Mulgrew for G Gilmore (61)

Referee: O Elliott (Antrim)


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