Dominant Hughes edges Tyrone past Saffrons
Tyrone came good in the second half to take the points from their snow-affected Ulster derby against Antrim. The game finally went ahead yesterday afternoon, having been postponed from its scheduled Saturday evening slot.
The Red Hands were not unduly perturbed that they trailed by a couple of points at the break, as Antrim had played with the assistance of a strong wind, and only sneaked ahead in stoppage-time with a Tomas McCann goal.
Mickey Harte will take heart from the quality of his side's second-half display, allied to the return of some key players, including the McMahon brothers Justin and Joe, who both came off the bench for their first league action of the season.
A goal from substitute McCann in the fourth minute of injury-time sent Antrim in at the break with a two-point lead, and it was no more than they deserved, as they had displayed more urgency and hunger than their opponents.
The Red Hands did have a spell of dominance early in the second quarter, with the Cavanagh brothers combining for a 24th-minute goal, Colm sending Sean in for his third goal in as many games.
Kevin Hughes imposed himself on the game with a momentous midfield display, hitting the target three times from play as Tyrone eased into a four-point lead at 1-6 to 0-5.
But Antrim staged an electrifying finish to the half, shooting 1-3 without reply.
Paddy Cunningham brought his tally to four points, and Kevin McGourty, Brendan Herron and Kevin Brady combined smartly for McCann to fire home a low, angled shot past Johnny Curran.
Tyrone, though, were a transformed team in the second half.
Hughes and Aidan Cassidy controlled the middle sector, and Conor Gormley and Davy Harte were solid at the back, both also breaking forward to score.
The home side outscored their opponents by 10 points to three in that second half, with Hughes, the Cavanagh brothers, Stephen O'Neill and Penrose all on target.
Late points from Mark Sweeney and Cunningham were never going to make a difference for Antrim, who face a four-pointer against fellow strugglers Sligo next weekend, while Tyrone travel to leaders Laois.
Man of the Match: Kevin Hughes (Tyrone)
Scorers -- Tyrone: S Cavanagh 1-3 (0-1f), K Hughes 0-4, M Penrose 0-3 (3f), S O'Neill 0-2, D Harte, C Gormley, C Cavanagh, Joe McMahon 0-1 each. Antrim: T McCann 1-1 (0-1f), P Cunningham 0-5 (3f), K McGourty 0-2, T Scullion, K Niblock (1f), M Sweeney 0-1 each.
Tyrone -- J Curran 6;Sean O'Neill 6, D McCaul 7, D Carlin 6; D Harte 7, C Gormley 7, R McMenamin 7; K Hughes 9, A Cassidy 8; C Cavanagh 6, B McGuigan 6, S Cavanagh 8; M Penrose 7, Stephen O'Neill 7, O Mulligan 6. Subs: Joe McMahon 7 for McGuigan, Justin McMahon 6 for Carlin, M Donnelly for Hughes.
Antrim -- C Kerr 6; A Healy 5, A McClean 6, K O'Boyle 7; T Scullion 7, J Crozier 7, T O'Neill 7; K McGourty 8, S Burke 6; A Gallagher 6, K Brady 7, C Murray 5; P Cunningham 8, K Niblock 7, B Herron 6. Subs: C Brady 6 for McClean, T McCann 7 for Dougan, M Sweeney 6 for Brady, R Johnston for Murray, A Douglas 5 for O'Boyle.
Ref -- C Branagan (Down).