Friday 20 September 2019

Ruthless Tyrone put Antrim to the sword in unnecessary mismatch

Tyrone 2-23 Antrim 2-9

Tyrone’s Connor McAliskey gets his kick away under pressure from Matthew Fitzpatrick. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Tyrone’s Connor McAliskey gets his kick away under pressure from Matthew Fitzpatrick. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

The clarion call for a tiered football championship will grow louder after Saturday's pitiful events in Portlaoise and in Armagh, where there was nothing to learn but a growing realisation that these mismatches must stop.

After a mixed performance against Derry in the Ulster SFC preliminary round, Tyrone had a plan this time to ruthlessly expose the chasm that exists between Division One and Division Four, having failed to do so in Healy Park.

Michael Cassidy of Tyrone in action against Ryan McNulty of Antrim. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Michael Cassidy of Tyrone in action against Ryan McNulty of Antrim. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

And even allowing for the concession of two second-half goals, that message went out loud and clear in a clinical culling of the Saffrons in the Athletic Grounds.

"We were supposed to win the game, and if we didn't win it comfortably, then people would be asking questions of where were we really at," admitted Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.

"We were in Division One, Antrim in Division Four, and after Derry put us to the pin of our collar with 10 minutes to go, we felt we needed to put that superiority on the scoreboard.

"We needed to win comprehensively, but it's just a job that had to be done, and there was not going to be a lot of thanks for us for winning the game."

Ronan McNamee of Tyrone in action against Kevin Quinn of Antrim. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ronan McNamee of Tyrone in action against Kevin Quinn of Antrim. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The sight of Connor McAliskey, Kyle Coney and Darren McCurry coming on as a second-half triple substitution would put the frightners on a lot of defenders.

The trio all scored from play, hitting 1-4 between them, at the end of a week which began with Lee Brennan quitting the panel due to a lack of game time.

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Richie Donnelly responded to that challenge with a man-of-the-match display.

Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson took some solace at 'drawing' the second half but the 1-16 to 0-5 half-time lead that Tyrone had, they held to the end.

"We scored 2-4 to their 1-7 in the second half, but most of the damage had been done in the first half," he said.

"The gulf in class was there to see from Division One to Division Four and that's not making excuses, it's just the reality of the situation."

Tyrone had 14 different scorers and despite two second-half goals in a 10-minute spell from Patrick McCormick and Matthew Fitzpatrick, it wasn't enough to raise the interest levels much above zero.

Brothers Richie and 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.

Tyrone were ruthless right 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 (1f), T McCann 1-0, R Donnelly, M Donnelly 0-3 each, R McNamee, R Brennan, M Cassidy, N Sludden, F Burns, K Coney, N Morgan ('45), P Harte (f), D McCurry 0-1 each. Antrim: R Murray (0-6, 5f), M Fitzpatrick, P McCormick 1-0 each, P McBride 0-2, J McAuley 0-1.

Tyrone - N Morgan 7; HP McGeary 7, R McNamee 7, P Hampsey 7; T McCann 7, R Brennan 6, M Cassidy 7; C Cavanagh 7, B McDonnell 6; M Donnelly 8, N Sludden 6, F Burns 6; C McShane 9, P Harte 7, R Donnelly 9. Subs: C Grugan 6 for McDonnell (BC, 24), A McCrory 6 for Hampsey (HT), K Coney 6 for M Donnelly (42), D McCurry 6 for McShane (42), C McAliskey 8 for Harte (42), C McCann for Sludden (53).

Antrim - P Nugent 7; P McCormick 7, R Johnston 6, P Gallagher 6; P McBride 8, D Lynch 6, N Delargy 7; C Duffin 6, S Beatty 6; J McAuley 6, M Fitzpatrick 7, K Quinn 6; R Murray 8, J Smith 6, O Eastwood 6. Subs: R McNulty 6 for Smith (HT), E Walsh 6 for Eastwood (45), R Scott 6 for Quinn (52), M McCarry 6 for Beatty (55), J Mallon NR for McAuley (63).

Ref - Maurice Deegan (Laois).

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