By John Fallon
Donegal manager Maxi Curran said he knew they would have to dig deep to see off the challenge of reigning All-Ireland intermediate champions in the preliminary round of the TG4 Ulster SFC.
The Ulster champions had to stave off a spirited fightback from Tyrone before advancing to a semi-final meeting with Cavan.
“Tyrone are a young, mobile team, they’re very athletic, an up-and-coming team just moving into senior this year,” said Curran.
“We knew it was going to be tough from that perspective, and it was very warm out there, a big occasion, but we’re just very happy to be in the next round.
“Our goals probably came against the run of play, but Geraldine McLaughlin was very clinical in the way she finished hers. But Tyrone came back at us, as we would have expected, they had nothing to lose at that stage,” added Curran.
Gerry Moane, the Tyrone manager, said the concession of the goals left them with an uphill task.
“The first goal was a good strike, and there wasn’t much we could do about that, but the second goal was a catastrophe, our own mistake, of our own doing.
“That set them up with a margin which gave them a breathing space which they hadn’t got during the first half, and they were able to go on and keep the space between us.
“I’m extremely proud of the effort, we have been saying all along we are capable of beating Donegal,” he said.
McLaughlin scored two goals and Niamh Hegarty also found the net as the defending champions progressed, but only after battling to overcome a strong challenge from the reigning All-Ireland intermediate holders.
McLaughlin’s first goal opened up a four-points lead after 20 minutes when she shot to the roof of the net.
And at the other end, ‘keeper Aoife McColgan came to her side’s rescue with a wonderful stop from Niamh O’Neill.
Hegarty grabbed a second Donegal goal just before the break to send her side in with a 2-6 to 0-8 advantage, which was increased early in the second half when McLaughlin won a penalty which she slotted home herself.
Tyrone never gave up and Aoibhinn McHugh won a penalty which Maria Canavan, who finished with 1-8, dispatched in the 43rd minute, but Karen Guthrie’s accuracy from frees kept Donegal ahead.
Tyrone defender Niamh McGinn found the net after a delivery by Aoibhinn McHugh but Ulster champions Donegal held on for victory.Tweet