Opening wins for Tyrone, Armagh, Donegal and Derry in Ulster MFC

The first round of matches went ahead in difficult conditions

Armagh v Antrim
Armagh's James McCooe in action against Antrim duo Odhran Doherty and Padraic O Mulrigh at Crossmaglen Picture: Seamus Loughran (seamus loughran)

TYRONE, Armagh, Donegal and Derry all conquered the fury of Storm Kathleen to carve out opening-day victories in the Electric Ireland Ulster MFC round-robin series.

Tyrone scored just twice in the second half, but held on to defeat Down by 2-7 to 1-7 at Dunmoyle, the home of Errigal Ciaran.

Playing with the gusting wind in the opening half, the Red Hands were frustrated by the visitors’ possession game, and led by a point at the end of the first quarter, two Lorcan McMurray points cancelling out a Paul McGovern effort.

The Red Hands struck an important blow in the 19th minute as Darren McAnespie picked up a stray clearance to hit the net, and two more McMurray scores helped them to a 1-6 to 0-2 interval lead.

McGovern kept the Mourne lads in touch, but a second Tyrone goal, scored by Liam McGeary after ‘keeper Callum Travers had smothered Darragh Devlin’s initial effort, opened out a nine-point lead.

However, they had to wait almost half an hour for their next score, as Down heaped on the pressure and attacked in waves with the assistance of Storm Kathleen.

McGovern and Barra McEvoy converted frees, and they got themselves right back in contention with a Liam Blaney goal on 45 minutes, following neat approach work from McGovern and Darragh Poland.

Cormac Small narrowed the gap to two points, but Down’s search for the crucial scores was met by defiant Tyrone defending, and the Red Hands sealed the win with a late converted free from substitute Shea McDermott.

Donegal were the most convincing winners of the day, routing Fermanagh by 3-13 to 1-4 at Donagh.

Paddy Ward got the visitors going with the first of his two goals in the early stages, with Conor McCahill keeping the scoreboard ticking from play and frees.

McCahill netted a second goal to put Donegal firmly in control, with Daire Chapman and Tadhg O’Brien hitting the target for the Erne side.

Thomas Cathcart pulled back a Fermanagh goal, but Donegal were always in control, and made sure of the win with Ward’s second goal, followed by points from McCahill and Turlough Carr.

In Section B, Derry had to work hard to get the better of Cavan at Owenbeg, winning by 1-8 to 1-5.

The Oak Leafers led by 0-7 to 1-0 at the break, with the sole Breffni score coming from a penalty, netted by Shane McCabe, while the home side had points from Ger Dillon, James Sargent, Dylan Rocks, Eamon Young, Caoimhin Hargan and Turlough McHugh.

Cavan responded with points from Odhran Madden and Nathan Quigley, but a Ruairi Biggs goal in the 43rd minute helped Derry steady the ship and hold out for a three-point success.

Armagh defeated Antrim by 2-9 to 0-2 at Crossmaglen, where they were never in any danger.

Keelan McEntee, Daithi O’Callaghan, Shea Loughran and Sean Woods were all on target in the opening half, and a Caomh Agnew goal in the 19th minute helped them to a 1-6 to 0-1 interval lead.

And the Orchard lads continued to dominate, sealing the win with a second goal from Daithi O’Callaghan.