GAA Football

Dr McKenna Cup: Tyrone post notice of interntion with big win over Antrim

Tyrone’s Frank Burns embarks on a solo run as Antrim’s Paddy McAleer closes in during last night’s Dr McKenna Cup tie at the Athletic Grounds Picture by Declan Roughan
Gerry Allen at the Athletic Grounds

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section A: Tyrone 4-20 Antrim 2-11

A TYRONE team chasing their seventh consecutive McKenna Cup title served notice of their intentions with this big victory over Antrim at the Athletic Grounds.

Padraig McNulty’s goal just before the interval set the Red Hands on the road to a resounding victory. It means that they are once more in pole position to challenge for the opening title of 2018.

The Dungannon man fired low and hard to the net after being put through by Niall Sludden. The strike capped a first half display that saw that the reigning champions quickly get into their stride against an Antrim side that lacked penetration up front.

It wasn’t long before the power-packed play of the Ulster champions began to make a telling impact. With Hugh Pat McGeary, Tiarnan McCann and Michael McKernan doing well at the back, Tyrone made full use of their possession up front.

Points from Mattie Donnelly and Lee Brennan got them going. While CJ McGourty and Ryan Murray responded for Antrim, the best efforts of Matt Fitzpatrick and Stephen Beatty just couldn’t yield the desired dividend.

Instead, Tyrone continued to make their mark. Connor McAliskey marked his return to competitive inter-county action with a few good touches and a pointed free to herald the start of a brilliant period of dominance for them coming up to half-time.

Cathal McShane and Mattie Donnelly added points, Frank Burns registered three great scores before that all-important goal in the 31st minute. It left Tyrone very much on top on an interval scoreline of 1-10 to 0-4 and there appeared to be little chance of Antrim being able to stage a dramatic revival despite having the advantage of a slight breeze in the second half.

Instead, points in quick succession from Darren McCurry on the resumption maintained the momentum of Mickey Harte’s side.

Their only real moment of concern came soon after when Matt Fitzpatrick came agonisingly close to grabbing a goal.

His rasping shot came back off the crossbar and the counter-attack saw Tyrone grab their second goal. Niall Sludden was again centrally involved, on this occasion setting up Connor McAliskey for the major.

He was substituted subsequently, Mickey Harte being content with the initial progress of the ace attacker on his return from long-term injury.

Both managers introduced a raft of substitutions near the finish as the game suddenly opened up to produce a blitz of scores.

Further goals from Frank Burns and Niall Sludden ensured that Tyrone were never going to be caught, even though Antrim did produced some spirited play in those concluding stages.

Ryan Duffin caught the eye with a number of well-taken points as a goal from Callum Duffin caught the Tyrone defence momentarily off-guard.

However, there was never any threat of the Red Hands losing their composure as they raced to a straightforward victory.

Tyrone: N Morgan; B Burns, P Hampsey, M McKernan; T McCann, HP McGeary, K McGeary; C McShane (0-4), P McNulty (1-0); M Donnelly (0-2), N Sludden (1-0), F Burns (1-3); D McCurry (0-5), C McAliskey (1-1, 0-1 free), L Brennan (0-2, 0-1 45 0-1 free).

Subs: R McNabb for K McGeary (46), R McHugh (0-2) for C McAliskey (46), D McClure for P McNulty (48), C McLaughlin for T McCann (44), M Cassidy for M McKernan (65)

Antrim: P Nugent; P Brannigan, P Gallagher, C Lemon; K O’Boyle, S McVeigh, J Laverty; M McCarry, N McKeever; S Beatty, M Fitzpatrick (1-0), R McCann; C McGourty (0-4 0-3 frees), C Duffin (1-1), R Murray (0-5, 0-1 free)

Subs: P McBride for J Laverty (35), C Murray (0-1) for M McCarry (35), K O hEeili for R McCann (41), N Delargy for C Lemon (41), S McVeigh for P McAleer (42)

Referee: E McFeely (Donegal)

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section A: Cavan 0-15 St Mary's 0-12

THREE injury-time points put the seal on a deserved Dr McKenna Cup win for an experimental Cavan side against St Mary’s on Kingspan Breffni’s 3G pitch.

Wind-backed St Mary’s enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first half but lacked bite  against an Cavan side whose blanket defence was luminous under the dark sky.

Mattie McGleenan’s home side started with eight debutants and relied on swift counter attacks but a goal-line clearance by Jack Hannigan and a diving save by Ranch goalkeeper Mark Reid had the blues holding their heads in frustration.

It was one of Cavan’s more experienced players, Niall McKiernan ,who shone brightest of all in the first half and his splendid three points pegged the Ranch lead back to a more manageable two points (0-5 to 0-3) with 19 minutes on the clock.

Slowly but surely, St Mary’s turned the screw in the middle third with the triumvirate of Liam Rafferty, Jarlath Og Burns and Conor Meyler shoving the raging hot favourites onto their heels.

Rafferty hit two glorious points but the students’ penchant for taking the circuitous route capped their goal opportunities. 

Still, Cavan’s modus operandi continued to invite the students onto them and Cavan  got a let-off in first half injury time when Darragh Kavanagh side-footed wide in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Raymond Galligan.

St Mary’s weren’t flattered by their 0-8 to 0-5 interval lead but their failure to bag a major when wind-backed in the first half always threatened to haunt them.

Cavan were level at 0-10 apiece by the 43rd minute but Burns and Convery made a dog’s dinner of a goal chance after a short-kick out by Galligan in the 52nd minute went pear-shaped. 

Micheal Rooney missed another goal chance in the 57th minute when he fired high and wide from point-blank range.

Four minutes later, Cavan made St Mary’s pay for their profligacy by edging into the lead 0-12 to 0-11.

A gem from Oisin O’Neill tied the scores once again but a brace from McKiernan and a wondrous effort from debutant Darragh Kennedy book-ended a fine second half display by the hosts.

Cavan: R Galligan; J McLaughlin (0-1), P Faulkner (0-1); D Phillips; O Kiernan, C Brady, E Flanagan; S McCormack, D Brady; N Clerkin, C Madden (0-2, 45), N McKiernan (0-5); J Wharton, A Cole (0-1), B Magee (0-2, 0-1 free).

Subs: C Brady (0-1) for D Brady (1), T Galligan (0-1) for McCormack (h-t), D Kennedy (0-1) for Wharton (h-t), C Moynagh for Cole (69), C Daly for Madden (72).

St Mary’s: M Reid; K Mallon, J Hannigan, M Rooney; C Byrne, C McConville, L Rafferty (0-2); L Devlin (0-2), O O’Neill (0-2); S McConville, C Meyler, J Og Burns (0-1); C Convery (0-1), D Kavanagh (0-4, 0-2 frees), R Wilson.

Subs: A Boyle for Byrne (21), R McSherry for Wilson (28), P Og McCrickard for Convery (65), J Colton for Kavanagh (66), C Carr for McConville (68), A Duffy for Burns (70).

Ref: Kevin Faloon (Armagh)

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