Tyrone Championship: Errigal Ciaran begin defence of title with victory over Killyclogher

Gavin Potter of Killyclogher challenges Errigal Ciaran’s Aidan McCrory
Gavin Potter of Killyclogher challenges Errigal Ciaran’s Aidan McCrory Gavin Potter of Killyclogher challenges Errigal Ciaran’s Aidan McCrory

Connolly’s of Moy Tyrone Senior Football Championship: Errigal Ciaran 0-17 Killyclogher 0-9

THERE were eight points in it at the finish but that doesn’t tell the story of a game that was in the melting pot with five minutes to go.

Errigal - solid in defence, quick on the counter and accurate up front - deserved their win. As for Killyclogher, you only get one chance in Tyrone and they struggled for fluency throughout the first half and into the second, before eventually finding their feet in a brilliant 15-minute spell.

They seized control but missed a gilt-edged goal chance that would have levelled it and the defending champions battled through an uncomfortable period and tagged on four scores in the closing stages which gave the scoreline a look that flattered the winners.

The first chance came when Michael Rafferty kicked long to Conall McCann who had drifted out to the wing. He took the ball well but kicked an attempted mark wide off his left foot.

Errigal were patient in attack. They kept possession and, with everyone in the Killyclogher half, goalkeeper Darragh McAnenly advanced to give them the lead.

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Errigal won the kickout and Darragh Canavan showcased his pace to split the posts from the right.   

Killyclogher attacks broke down around the Errigal half-back where Ciaran Quinn was outstanding and after his teammate Peter O’Hanlon had won the ball, Darragh Canavan passed to Joe Oguz who applied an excellent finish.

Mark Bradley opened Killyclogher’s account with a brilliant score off his left foot but ‘the Blues’ needed Simon O’Neill to bail them out after Odhran Robinson wriggled through Nathan O’Neill and Jordan Barton and smashed a shot goalward.

O’Neill deflected it out for a 45 which Ruairi Canavan stroked over the bar but Conall McCann cancelled it out immediately with a handsome score of his own.

A Ruairi Canavan mark followed hot on the heels of that and Tiarnan McCann – marked by Dermot Morrow – won a free-kick from his first break forward. His brother took the free but Gavin Potter’s ‘point’ was ruled out for square-ball.   

Another Ruairi Canavan score – somehow keeping his balance while running at top speed and shrugging off tackles – made it 0-6 to 0-2 after 20 action-packed minutes.

Errigal committed everyone forward when they attacked and their movement created holes in the Killyclogher defence. Morrow moved into one and took Ciaran Quinn’s pass before whipping over his club’s seventh.

Meanwhile, Killyclogher couldn’t settle. The ball into Conall McCann wasn’t accurate but Tiarnan McCann conjured up the score they desperately needed and then the jinking Bradley bought a free which Conall McCann curled over to cut the gap to three which, given their poor start, Killyclogher would have taken as the whistle blew for half-time.

But they didn’t get the second half they needed. From the throw-in, Oguz flicked the ball to Harte who charged straight down the middle. He was brought down and Tommy Canavan converted the free. He quickly added another but Killyclogher fought back when Danny Gorman split the posts from near the corner flag and then Tiarnan McCann forced a fingertip save from McAnenly.

Killclogher pushed men up and tried to use their height advantage in the full-forward line but Errigal dealt with the aerial bombardment and an Oguz mark and another Ruairi Canavan free extended the gap to six points (0-11 to 0-5) after 10 second half minutes.

Bradley managed a free and Killyclogher put the full press on for the kickout. Conall McCann grabbed it and again the ball went high and long into the square. There was more intensity about Killyclogher and, after Ruairi Canavan had been denied the goal that might have finished it, Gavin Potter, Conall McCann and a superb second from Potter reduced the gap to three.   

After four Killyclogher points in-a-row, it was now Errigal who were desperate for a score and Ruairi Canavan clipped over his fifth score but it was only temporary respite.

The kickout went short and Killyclogher – looking they had extra men on the field - sliced through the Errigal defence but Hayes blazed wide with the goal gaping.  

Errigal made the most of the let-off. Thomas Canavan added his third free to leave four in it and as the game entered injury-time Simon O’Neill’s shot drifted wide and Oguz won a vital kickout and Errigal kept the ball and work a brilliant score for Eoin Kelly.

Pauric Traynor and Thomas and Darragh Canavan added three more as the champions finished with a flourish. They’ll take some stopping.

Killyclogher: S O’Neill; M Devlin, D Gorman (0-1), M Rafferty; N O’Neill, T McCann (0-1), J Barton; O McCann, D Hayes; M Murnaghan, G Potter (0-2), M Hughes; M Bradley (0-2, 0-1 free), C McCann (0-3, 0-1 free), E McFadden

Subs: D Hayes for Flanagan (50), S Kerr for Gorman (59)

Errigal Ciaran: D McAnenly (0-1); C Quinn, A McCrory, D Morrow (0-1); B McDonnell, C Quinn, P Og McCartan; P Harte, J Oguz (0-2, 0-1 mark); P O’Hanlon, T Canavan (0-2 frees), O Robinson; P Traynor (0-1), D Canavan (0-2), R Canavan (0-5, 0-3 frees, 0-1 mark)

Subs: E Kelly (0-1) for Robinson (49)

Referee: S Hurson