Wednesday 13 December 2017

Silverware and no injuries signal good day at the office for Harte

Tyrone 2-13 Derry 1-7

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte:
Tyrone boss Mickey Harte: "We have done well in the McKenna Cup in the last six years." Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Bogue

With Derry long beaten and Tyrone picking off long-range scores for fun, the whistle that confirmed Tyrone had just won their sixth consecutive McKenna Cup was more akin to a golf clap.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in Newry on Saturday was the visit of James Brokenshire, sitting with Ulster Council President Michael Hasson, the first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to attend a GAA match in the country.

In that odd moment when you don't want to appear too happy about winning a McKenna Cup, Tyrone boss Mickey Harte said: "We have done well in the McKenna Cup in the last six years. If you look back at our progress over that period of time, we weren't too bad.

"We were in a league Division 1 final and we have been in an Ulster final and won it, and we have been in All-Ireland semi-finals, so I don't think there's any way you can say doing well in the McKenna Cup mitigates against doing well the rest of the season.

"So we'll take it as a positive and we'll try and build on it."

Opposite number Damian Barton was asked directly if avoiding injury was more important than competing for the trophy, as his players turned in a performance drenched in naivety.

"Emotionally and physically they were on a different level as the game wore on. Our defence played valiantly but I think there was so much coming through the middle third it was very hard," he said.

"Obviously we had a couple of players we couldn't call upon. Without demeaning this, we got our final last week in terms of how the guys responded. Tyrone are slick and they are ahead of most teams at the moment, certainly us."


Derry found some joy early on with the long ball to Emmet McGuckin, with the rest of the forward line withdrawn to give him plenty of space, but Harte soon rumbled it and stationed a spare man on McGuckin's toes.

The tide went Tyrone's way in an eventful two minutes. Matthew Donnelly blocked down a Neil Forrester shot and the ball was moved upfield. Quick hands from Ronan O'Neill and Padraig McNulty led to Colm Cavanagh picking up a collector's item of a goal.

Soon after, McGuckin gathered a loose ball and transferred it to James Kielt, who put Ryan Bell through. His shot rattled the crossbar and came back out.

From that point on, the Red Hands took control and restricted Derry to 40 minutes without a score from play. Tyrone's second goal arrived with a neat Peter Harte penalty, while the Oak Leafs' major came in injury-time when Niall Loughlin steered home a Mark Craig shot.

Overall, Mickey Harte was pleased with another trophy - lifted by Peter Harte."It's great that we turned around a first-day defeat, which didn't look pretty when it happened to us," he said.

"We picked up a lot of injuries and it wasn't a good day for us, but I think there's great resilience in the boys. They rolled up their sleeves and had to fight for a semi-final place.

"That's ideally what you want out of the McKenna Cup, giving game-time and still getting results, and we have managed to balance that pretty well."

They will now get ready for Sunday's visit of Roscommon to Healy Park in the first National League game.

SCORERS - Tyrone: P Harte 1-2 (1-0 pen, 2f), M Donnelly, R O'Neill, M Bradley 0-2 each; C Cavanagh 1-0; P McNulty, D McClure, N Sludden, C Meyler; C McCullagh 0-1each.

Derry: J Kielt 0-3 (3f), N Loughlin 1-0; M Lynch 0-2 (2f), R Bell, E McGuckin 0-1 each.

TYRONE - N Morgan; A McCrory, J McMahon, P Hampsey; C McCarron, M Donnelly, P Harte; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; D McClure, N Sludden, C Meyler; M Bradley, C McCullagh, R O'Neill. Subs: S Cavanagh for C Cavanagh (h-t), D McCurry for Bradley (h-t), C McCann for McCullagh (44), R McHugh for Harte (59), C McShane for Sludden (59)

DERRY - T Mallon; N Keenan, C Nevin, R Murphy; N Forrester, O Duffin, P Hagan; C McAtamney, M McEvoy; E Lynn, J Kielt, N Loughlin; M Lynch, R Bell, E McGuckin. Subs: M Warnock for Hagan (h-t), P Coney for McEvoy (44), M Craig for Duffin (51), G O'Neill for McAtamney (51), B Grant for Kielt (58), C McGroogan for Murphy (61).

Ref - S Laverty (Antrim)

Irish Independent

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