The Donegal panel before the Buncrana Cup final against Tyrone at the Scarvey
Ruairí McCullagh struck all four goals as Tyrone defeated Donegal in the Buncrana Cup final at the Scarvey.
The Tyrone full-forward was in exceptional form - hitting 4-2 in all - and although Donegal didn’t at any stage throw in the towel, the Red Hands had a cutting edge up front which led them to a seven-point win in the end.
The tone of the match was set as early as the third minute when Tyrone were awarded a close-range free-kick and as everyone else stood still, McCullagh was the only one alive to the situation and drove the ball low past Donegal goalkeeper Daniel McDaid for the opening goal.
With Donegal nervy to begin with Tyrone moved 1-2 to 0-0 in front with Matty McNally and Conor Devlin scoring before Tiernan Ward got Barry Ward’s team off the mark on nine minutes. A feature of the game though was evident from early on though, with Tyrone not playing the percentages of safe possession and going for incisive threaded balls and then for goal whenever half a sniff arose.
McDaid in the Donegal goal got down to save well from Matthew Howe only for Tyrone’s McCullagh to add a second goal on 21 minutes. This time he slotted home the rebound after a dropping effort from Howe was knocked down by McDaid just under his own crossbar.
That made it 2-4 to 0-2 for Tyrone and they essentially would keep Donegal at arm’s length for the remainder of the contest. Donegal were best served late in the half by Shane Callaghan in the corner and then through three points from John James Sweeney late in the half. Tyrone were 2-7 to 0-8 in front at the break.
Substitute Dylan Mulholland was introduced at the break and his score brought cheer to the local Buncrana crowd before Tyrone posted their third goal. This time McCullagh cut inside and finished expertly to the top corner for a lead of 3-8 to 0-9 on 33 minutes.
Four minutes later, McCullagh grabbed his fourth when he had eyes only for a diagonal ball in from Matty McNally to beat McDaid to the punch and a 4-8 to 0-10 advantage.
Donegal had a decent enough spell with points coming from Finbar Roarty and Callaghan bringing his tally to four for the day and even though Tyrone lost McNally for 10 minutes to a black card, goalkeeper Aidan Woods looked like he would be keeping a clean sheet.
At the other end, McDaid made a fantastic late stop from an absolute belter of a shot from Conor O'Neill.
Donegal scorers: Shane Callaghan 0-4, 3f; John James Sweeney 0-4; Tiernan Ward, Luke Clerkin, Darragh Hennigan, Finbar Roarty, Dylan Mulholland, Johnnie Mac Giolla Bhride and Jack Hegarty 0-1.
Tyrone scorers: Ruairí McCullagh 4-2, 1-0f; Kelvin Nelson 0-2; Matty McNally, Conor Devlin, Turlough Muldoon and Leo Hughes 0-1 each; Nathan Farry, 0-1, 45.
Donegal: Daniel McDaid (Carndonagh); Daniel McMenamin (Naomh Padraig), Conan Brannigan (Naomh Conaill), Callum McCrea (Four Masters); Eoghan Scott (Glenswilly), Finbar Roarty (Naomh Conaill), Luke Clerkin (Dungloe); Lorcan McGee (Cloughaneely), John James Sweeney (Termon); Darragh Hennigan (Ardara), Tiernan Ward (Naomh Conaill), Philip Doherty (St Eunan’s); Shane Callaghan (Naomh Columba), Thomas Roache (St Eunan’s), Jack Hegarty (Naomh Ultan). Subs: Oisin Scanlon (St Eunan’s) and Dylan Mulholland (Buncrana) for Doherty and Roache (half-time), Johnnie Mac Giolla Bhride (Gaoth Dobhair) for Hennigan (40), Oisin Doherty (Four Masters) and Donal Gallagher (Naomh Bríd) for McGee and Ward (43), Aidan Friel (Glenswilly) for McMenamin (45), Terence McGovern (Four Masters) for Clerkin (47)
Tyrone: Aidan Woods; Brian Gallagher, Sean Broderick, Conor Devlin; Matty McNally, Aidan Colton, Nathan Farry; Conor O'Neill, Sheeran Fay; Leo Hughes, Matthew Howe, Liam Lawn; Kelvin Nelson, Ruairí McCullagh, Turlough Muldoon. Subs: Liam Corry for Lawn (half-time), Aidan Hegarty for Nelson (51), Tommy Taggart for McNally (54), Eoin O’Neill for Muldoon (56), James McCann for Howe (60), Cathair Logue for Gallagher (60+2)
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh)
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