Monday 23 April 2018

McNeice helps bring 20 years in wilderness to an end for Coalisland

Coalisland fianna 0-9, Carrickmore 0-7, Tyrone SFC final

Coalisland ended 20 years of misery and despair at Healy Park, yesterday as they won their first Tyrone title since 1990.

Former Tyrone star Damien O'Hagan captained the last successful side two decades ago -- this time he was manager.

The game was no classic; it was dour and negative for the most part. Indeed, the Fianna beat Carrickmore at their own game, digging their heels in to win in backs-to-the-wall fashion in a gripping finish.

With not a single county player in their ranks, Coalisland are the new Red Hand standard-bearers, and their youthful team will venture into inter-provincial action next weekend.

Nerves affected both sides in the early stages, with defences very much on top. Peter Donnelly and Paddy O'Farrell kept things tight at the back for the Fianna, while Colm McGurk and Ciaran McAleer stood firm at the opposite end.


But O'Farrell became increasingly effective, building from the back, as Coalisland grew in confidence. They led by 0-2 to 0-0 at the end of the opening quarter, Paddy McNeice, from a free, and skipper Plunkett Kane both on target.

They had moved into a three-point lead through Brian Toner by the time Barry Daly opened Carrickmore's account from a free in the 20th minute.

Coalisland's Peter McGahan was winning his midfield battle with Tyrone star Conor Gormley, but Carrickmore began to prosper once full-forward Mark Donnelly drifted out to the central area to pick up possession.

He set up Finbar Magill's point, which was quickly cancelled out by another McNeice point, but a second free from McNally narrowed the gap to a single point, Coalisland ahead by 0-4 to 0-3 at the break.

And the Fianna edged the third quarter, outscoring their opponents by four points to two.

Brian Toner and brother Philip, with a superb long-range effort, along with another couple of McNeice frees, made it 0-8 to 0-5.

Carrickmore missed chances but McNally and Finbar Magill both raised the white flag to close the gap to two.

It was all set up for a frenetic finish, with Carrickmore pressing hard, but the Coalisland defence stood firm, with Donnelly, McGahan and O'Farrell performing heroics.

Scorers - Coalisland: P McNeice 0-4 (0-4f), B Toner 0-3 (0-2f), P Toner, P Kane 0-1 each. Carrickmore: K McNally 0-3 (0-2f), F Magill, B Daly (0-2f) 0-2 each.

Coalisland -- J Curran; L O'Neill, P Donnelly, L Wylie; S Mcnally, N Kerr, P O'Farrell; P McGahan, P Toner; P Kane, B Toner, S Curran; P McNeice, T O'Hagan, G Toner. Subs: M Early for Kane, D Thornton for O'Hagan.

Carrickmore -- P McCallan; P Daly, C McGurk, B McLaughlin; P Hughes, C McAleer, P Cunningham; C Gormley, N Loughran; C Daly, B Daly, P McMahon; K McNally, M Donnelly, F Magill. Subs: G McCallan for McMahon, M McCallan for Hughes.

Ref -- E McHugh (Aghyaran).

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