GAA Football

Errigal Ciaran race to big win over Clonoe with Canavans starring

Darragh Canavan top-scored for Errigal Ciaran with 1-5 in their 14-point win Tyrone SFC win over Clonoe. Picture Seamus Loughran
Kenny Archer at Edendork

Tyrone SFC first round: Errigal Ciaran 1-21 Clonoe 0-10

DON'T let the scoreline fool you - Errigal Ciaran probably should have won this match by even more.

A 14-point victory in Tyrone senior championship football is almost unheard-of but this was a dominant display by the Ballygawley men - and boys - who blew away an experienced Clonoe side, even against the wind in the first half.

Joint-boss Mark Harte gave a masterclass afterwards in down-playing their performance but his side were highly impressive in disposing of the O'Rahilly's.

"It's a young team, a developing team, we've a lot of work to do," said Harte. "They're working hard, thankfully, they put in a good shift. We came here not knowing what way things would go: we hoped for a performance, we were hoping for a result, and we got over the line."

They did much more than that, with the famous name of Canavan to the fore as Darragh and Ruairi, sons of the legendary Peter, outscored Clonoe between them, with 1-5 and 0-5 respectively - and teenager Ruairi only played the second half.

Harte was more accurate when he said: "It's all about the result, really, and I'm really happy with it." So he should be - what a result, and what a performance.

Darragh destroyed the Clonoe defence in the opening quarter, scoring 1-3, including rifling in what somehow proved to be the only goal of the game in the sixth minute. The fact that Errigal didn't add any more majors was largely due to former Tyrone goalkeeper Mickey O'Neill making some excellent saves.

O'Neill twice denied Errigal corner-forward Odhran Robinson with smart saves and also beat Ben McDonnell when he came flying in for a high ball, before having to be held back as he tried to beat the midfielder again.

Yet that was a rare flashpoint in a match that never really caught fire as a contest, mostly because Errigal's pace and finishing power burned their opponents off.

This looked like a case of the past against the future, although Errigal are obviously a clear and present danger to everyone else in this year's Championship.

The trio of Clonoe players who opted off the Tyrone panel earlier this year, Connor McAliskey, Dan McNulty, and Declan McClure, all got on the scoresheet, although McAliskey's tally of 0-5 was matched by the same number of wides from him.

However, the Errigal men who helped the Red Hands lift the Sam Maguire Cup - Peter Harte, McDonnell, Darragh Canavan, and Niall Kelly - all impressed even more, albeit as part of a terrific all-round team effort.

Darragh set the tone with the opening score inside the opening minute, defender Cormac Quinn illustrated the quality throughout the Errigal side with the next score, and then, after McNulty had opened Clonoe's account, the Ballygawley boys responded with a goal, Darragh smashing a loose ball home after keeper O'Neill had raced out to challenge Tommy Canavan. Three minutes later he kept out a Robinson shot at his near post.

Clonoe hung in there, but were grateful to O'Neill leaping to his left to prevent Robinson palming to the net in added time, and Cathal Corrigan gave Errigal a five-point half-time lead, 1-8 to 0-6.

Once again, though, Errigal began the half superbly and within 10 minutes of the re-start they had more than doubled their advantage, boosted by Robinson's replacement Ruairi Canavan, and a couple of scores from McDonnell.

PJ Lavery did force Darragh McAnenly to save with his legs but the game was effectively over before the second water break.

Clonoe showed some spirit by scoring three times when they were down to 14 men after Gary Coney's 41st minute black card, but the lead was still in double figures.

Ruairi Canavan's fabulous right foot helped Errigal stretch that advantage and they ended up with 10 different scorers, all registering from play, as they eased away to a statement victory.

Clonoe's poor day ended worse with Stephen McNulty red-carded late on for a second yellow card, although both sides converted a free apiece after that to conclude the scoring.

Harte was pleased to outdo these opponents, pointing out: "Clonoe have beaten us traditionally over the years, it's been a long, long time since we've beaten Clonoe in the Championship, it's always a big ask…

"We're content with where we are. If you asked Stevie McDonnell and his backroom team, they'd probably say they under-performed significantly for Clonoe…Any victory over Clonoe O'Rahilly's on any day is a tough ask and we'd have eaten your hand off for a one-point victory."

Errigal now face Loughmacrory, the league leaders, but despite what Mark Harte may say his club will be firm favourites to reach the last four.

Errigal Ciaran: D McAnenly; Ciaran Quinn, A McCrory (capt.), Cormac Quinn (0-2); C McGinley (0-1), N Kelly, P Harte; B McDonnell (0-2), J Oguz (0-1); C Corrigan (0-2), T Canavan (0-1), P Og McCartan (0-1); O Robinson, B Horisk, D Canavan (1-5).

Substitutes: S Tierney (0-1) for McCrory (18, inj.); R Canavan (0-5, 0-2 frees) for Robinson (h-t); M Kavanagh for T Canavan, 34); P McAnenly for McCartan (39); P McGirr for McDonnell (43).

Clonoe: M O'Neill; G Coney, P O'Neill, J Taggart; S Donnelly, P Doris (0-1), C O'Neill; S McNulty, P Coney; R Corey, D McNulty (0-1), D McClure (0-1 free); D Magee (0-1), C McAliskey (0-5, 0-1 sideline, 0-3 frees), PJ Lavery (0-1).

Substitutes: D Quinn for Donnelly (21, inj.); R McCabe for Magee (39); R T O'Neill for Corey (40); C Doris for Taggart (55).

Black card: G Coney (41-51).

Red card: Stephen McNulty (60, second yellow).

Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Omagh).

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