Tuesday 15 October 2019

14 different scorers chip in as Tyrone cruise to comprehensive win over Antrim

Tyrone 2-23 Antrim 2-9

Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Odhran Eastwood and Patrick Gallagher of Antrim
Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Odhran Eastwood and Patrick Gallagher of Antrim

After the brilliance of last week's two Ulster SFC games, this was the pedestrian contest everyone had feared with Tyrone sleepwalking their way into a provincial semi-final.

The Red Hands had 14 different scorers on the night, 11 of their starting team, with Cathal McShane again catching the eye as a lethal danger man on the edge of the square and top-scoring with 0-6.

Although Antrim made the most of some slack Tyrone defending in the second half — with two goals in a 10-minute spell from Patrick McCormick and Matthew Fitzpatrick — it wasn't enough to raise the interest levels much above zero.

Even the attendance in the Athletic Grounds of 5,409, well below average for an Ulster first-round tie, suggested people feared a cakewalk for Tyrone, and so it proved.

Richie Donnelly, Mattie Donnelly and McShane scored seven points from play between them in the first half and Tyrone were already 0-10 to 0-3 ahead by the time Tiernan McCann hit the net with a spectacular finish in the 28th minute. Peter Harte's driving run through the middle set up the chance; he off-loaded to McCann who drilled a cracking finish inside the far post.

It looked grim for Antrim, trailing 1-16 to 0-5 at the break, and although Ryan Murray and Fitzptarick offered some resistance, it was an uphill battle with the chasm between the Division One and Division Four teams cruelly exposed.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte rang the changes early in the second half, giving game time to Darren McCurry, Kyle Coney and Connor McAliskey, with Conan Grugan already on in the first half for Ben McDonnell, who was black-carded for tripping Patrick McBride.

McBride had claims for a penalty turned down, with referee Maurice Deegan deeming the challenge to have been outside the square.

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With so many changes made by 42 minutes in, Tyrone were already thinking ahead to a semi-final with Donegal or Fermanagh when McCormick popped up from corner-back, got inside their full-back line and finished superbly low across Niall Morgan.

Fitzpatrick followed it up with a second goal but Tyrone were ruthless at the finish, McAliskey drilling the ball high into the roof of the net from close range.

Scorers - Tyrone: C McShane 0-6 (4f), C McAliskey 1-2, T McCann 1-0, R Donnelly 0-3, M Donnelly 0-3 N Morgan (45), R McNamee, R Brennan, M Cassidy, N Sludden, F Burns, P Harte (f), D McCurry, K Coney 0-1 each; Antrim: M Fitzpatrick, P McCormick 1-0 each, R Murray 0-6 (5f), P McBride 0-2 (2f), J McAuley 0-1.

Tyrone: N Morgan; HP McGeary, R McNamee, P Hampsey; T McCann, R Brennan, M Cassidy; C Cavanagh, B McDonnell; M Donnelly, N Sludden, F Burns; C McShane, P Harte, R Donnelly. Subs: C Grugan for McDonnell (BC, 24), A McCrory for Hampsey (HT), K Coney for M Donnelly (42), D McCurry for McShane (42), C McAliskey for Harte (42), C McCann for Sludden (53),

Antrim: P Nugent; P McCormick, R Johnston, P Gallagher; P McBride, D Lynch, N Delargy; C Duffin, S Beatty; J McAuley, M Fitzpatrick, K Quinn; R Murray, J Smith, O Eastwood. Subs: R McNulty for Smith (HT), E Walsh for Eastwood (45), R Scott for Quinn (52), M McCarry for Beatty (55), J Mallon for McAuley (63).

Referee: M Deegan (Laois)

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