Wednesday 21 February 2018

Clear lessons despite mud as Tyrone reach another final

Tyrone 0-8 Fermanagh 0-4

Padraig McNulty of Tyrone in action against Ruairi Corrigan of Fermanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Padraig McNulty of Tyrone in action against Ruairi Corrigan of Fermanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

It was character-forming stuff in the mud in Brewster Park, the kind of game no-one was hanging around to talk about afterwards but there were lessons for both managers to learn from this semi-final.

Mickey Harte seemed pleased, not just to have secured yet another Dr McKenna Cup final appearance for Tyrone, but with his players' response to trying conditions and difficult opponents.

It was grim, but useful preparation Harte reckoned, for the challenge's to come.

"You can't go sleepwalking into the league," said the Tyrone manager.

"Sometimes it's not about how flamboyant the game is. You can have lots of handy open football, knocking up great scores and winning with something to spare.

"That's great when you are doing it by all means, but it doesn't teach you a lot.

Kieran McGeary of Tyrone in action against Eoin Donnelly of Fermanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Kieran McGeary of Tyrone in action against Eoin Donnelly of Fermanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

"I think that game would have taught us more about what we're going to face in a few weeks time, and we are very glad to have had that challenge," he added.

A crowd of between five and six thousand endured 16 scoreless minutes in the first half, and a 26-minute spell in the second half without a score.

The game was fiesty though, especially in the first half, with a total of 12 yellow cards and one red card shown to Fermanagh defender Kane Connor for a second booking just before half-time.

While admitting it was "disappointing to lose" Rory Gallagher has hit the ground running in Fermanagh and his players didn't take a backwards step yesterday.

The dismissal of Connor just before the break for a second yellow card offence meant the Erne men weren't as competitive in the second period as they were in the first, and they never really looked like clawing back the 0-6 to 0-3 half-time deficit.

Tyrone raced into an early lead with three unanswered points in the opening 11 minutes, but Fermanagh levelled it inside three minutes in an unusually prolific period in the game.

Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Declan McCusker of Fermanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Declan McCusker of Fermanagh. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

It didn't last, with scores hard to come by on a wet and miserable afternoon.

While it was a one-score game for long enough, Ronan O'Neill landed a beauty late on to ensure Tyrone will chase a seventh McKenna Cup title in a row next weekend against Donegal or Armagh.

Scorers - Fermanagh: R Jones, B Mulrone, A Breen 0-1 each, Seamus Quigley 0-1 (f); Tyrone: D McCurry 0-3 (3f), C McAliskey 0-2 (1f), R Donnelly, D McClure, R O'Neill 0-1 each.

Fermanagh: P Cadden; C McManus, C Cullen, K Connor; J McMahon, L Cullen, D McCusker; E Donnelly, R Jones; B Mulrone, R Lyons, A Breen; D Teague, C Jones, Seamus Quigley. Subs: R Corrigan for Lyons (40), Sean Quigley for Seamus Quigley (47), E McHugh for Teague (55), E Courtney for Breen (61), E McManus for L Cullen (70).

Tyrone: M O'Neill; A McCrory, HP McGeary, M Cassidy; C McLaughlin, M Donnelly, K McGeary; B McDonnell, D McClure; R Donnelly, N Sludden, C McCann; D McCurry, R McHugh, C McAliskey. Subs: P Hampsey for HP McGeary (HT), P Harte for McAliskey (43), P McNulty for McDonnell (47), R O'Neill for McCurry (51), M McKernan for R Donnelly (54), R McNabb for M Donnelly (70).

REF - Ciaran Branagan (Down).

Irish Independent

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