Wednesday 20 February 2019

McGeeney laments lack of 'killing edge' in feisty final

Dr McKenna Cup Final: Tyrone 0-16 Armagh 0-14

Tempers flare among the players in the Athletic Grounds. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Tempers flare among the players in the Athletic Grounds. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Seán McGoldrick

It was like somebody turned the clock back at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday night as Tyrone and Armagh battled it out in a manner redolent of a time when contests between these sides invariably turned into bruising wars of attrition.

Nobody was complaining, though the Armagh fans in the attendance of 11,318 were regretting that their side didn't turn the screw when they had the chance.

They were trailing by two points in the dying minutes when Rory Grugan faced up to a penalty, but his shot grazed the top of the crossbar.

Then, right at the death, Niall Grimley, whose place-kick taking had been exemplary, miscued a straightforward free which would almost certainly have sent the contest into extra time.

Chances

"We had chances to win it and maybe we didn't have the killing edge to be able to close it out," said Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney.

Armagh's Jamie Clarke. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Armagh's Jamie Clarke. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Mickey Harte has the midas touch in this tournament: it was Tyrone's 11th triumph under his baton.

"There's only four pieces of silverware you can win in this game and it's nice to have one of them. Some people don't really have that gra for it that we have but we like to win it," said Harte.

There were three fracases, though players were careful not be throw punches. Instead, they mostly grappled on the ground.

Still, Armagh finished with 13 men after the dismissal of James Morgan (double booking) and Aaron McKay, who was shown a straight red together with Tyrone's Ronan McNamee following a late clash. The pair could face further sanction as they had another altercation coming off the field.

Tyrone's Liam Rafferty in action against Armagh's Rian O'Neill, left, and Stefan Campbell. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Tyrone's Liam Rafferty in action against Armagh's Rian O'Neill, left, and Stefan Campbell. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Armagh led 0-4 to 0-1 after 11 minutes as Tyrone's kick-out strategy went awry. But though it took the visitors 21 minutes to register their first point from play, they outscored Armagh six points to one in the remainder of the half to lead 0-9 to 0-6 at the break.

Though Armagh drew level in the 56th minute, the free-taking of Darren McCurry, back after a sabbatical in 2018, proved crucial in getting them over the line.

In the wake of the Central Council's decision earlier, the three limit hand-pass rule was not deployed much, to everybody's delight.

McGeeney suggested the GAA look at the symptoms rather than the cure when it comes to football. He said the non-definition of the tackle was the biggest issue in the game.

SCORERS - Tyrone: D McCurry 0-9 (8fs); C McShane (1m), N Sludden 0-2 each; N Morgan (f), R McNamee, D McClure 0-1 each. Armagh: N Grimley (4fs, 1 45), R Grugan (4fs, 1 pen) 0-5 each; S Campbell 0-2, R O'Neill, J Clarke (m) 0-1 each.

Tyrone - N Morgan; C McLaughlin, R McNamee, L Rafferty; T McCann, A McCrory, M Cassidy; C Grugan, D McClure; N Sludden, R O'Neill, C McCann; D McCurry, P Harte, C McShane Subs: C Meyler for McCann (42); M Donnelly for Cassidy (43); K McGeary for Rafferty (50); D Canavan for O'Neill (50); K Coney for Grugan (61).

Armagh - B Hughes; C Mackin, A McKay, J Morgan; R McCaughley, B Donaghy, G McCabe; S Sheridan, N Grimley; J Hall, R Grugan, R McShane; S Campbell, R O'Neill, J Clarke. Subs: J McElroy for Donaghy (h-t); J Og Burns for McShane (h-t); C Vernon for McCabe (49); D McMcKenna for Clarke (60), R McQuillan for Hall (62).

Ref - J McQuillan (Cavan)

Irish Independent

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