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O’Kelly in fine form for hurlers

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

TYRONE qualified for the Ulster Senior Hurling Shield final with a runaway win over Fermanagh at Clones.

Tyrone...4-18
Fermanagh...0-10

Two Pierse O'Kelly goals and strikes from Damien Casey and Bryan McGurk underlined the superiority of Mattie Lennon's side as they coasted to a 20 points success.

It was the perfect way to bounce back from a disappointing performance a week earlier in the NFL Division 3A final, a quality performance which provided a more accurate reflection of the quality of this team.

Tyrone manager Mattie Lennon was delighted with the response of his players following a difficult day in the league final.

“It was great to get a win, and we played some good hurling into the bargain," he said.

“It was a very hot day for hurling, but they did a lot of the things that we asked them to do during the week at training.

“It's good to get back playing again and get a game straight away, after last week, and the boys were up for it, good to get a win."

Ace attacker Damien Casey was once more the star of the show, hitting 1-11, but Lennon hailed the contributions of all those who contributed to a morale-boosting win.

“It was a good team performance, I know Damien got the big scores, but everybody put their shoulders to the wheel at different times.

“It was a warm day, but the energy levels were good, the intensity was good, and we moved the ball well around the field."

The Red Hands face Derry in this weekend's final, and the standard of opposition will be significantly higher, presenting a golden opportunity for the team to rise to the occasion and take an important step forward.

“Derry are a Division 2B team, so we know it's a big step up, but that's the sort of games that we want to be playing, playing the likes of Derry, to see where we are," said Lennon.

“And there's no better way of preparing for going into the Nicky Rackard Cup the following week against Monaghan.

“The Nicky Rackard is the championship, and a lot of the lads put their name in the hat by the way they played, and it's good to have that.

“That's the kind of headaches you want, a panel of players that are pushing each other on.

“The pitch was in good nick, the weather was good, and you could see the speed of the game, it's a different game when you play in conditions like this.

“The ball moves faster and the mobile hurlers come to the fore, and it's great to be able to play at Clones in the conditions there was.

“This was our second final so it;s great for the profile of the game, great for the young lads.

“It lifts the whole profile of the game in the county and that's what you're aiming to do, is trying to push on and to play at a higher level. And its great to get to a final and play against a team like Derry."

Tyrone were in their stride from an early stage, and that man Casey wasted no time in showcasing his exceptional talents, hitting six points in the opening quarter.

The Eoghan Ruadh man was unerring from frees and slotted over some delightful scores from play as the Red Hands opened up a 0-7 to 0-1 lead, with Ryan McKernan also on target.

Sean Corrigan had Fermanagh's only score in that spell, splitting the posts from a free, and he was to be his side's chief scoring threat.

And Tyrone struck for a goal on 20 minutes, when Bryan McGurk got himself into an advanced position to fetch and hit the net with conviction.

The Erme men responded with a couple of Corrigan frees and  Francis McBrien score, but Tyrone were always able to keep them at arm's length, with Matthew Mulgrew and Tiernan Morgan hitting the target.

And they tightened their grip on the target when Pierse O'Kelly capped a searing run with a fine finish to the net to give his side a commanding 2-9 to 0-5 interval lead.

Casey was at it again as the second half got under way, slotting over a point before driving through for his side's third goal as the margin widened.

He continued to hit the target as Fermanagh's challenge faded under the pressure, although the men in green did manage scores from Shea Curran and Andrew Breslin.

The outcome was put far beyond doubt when O'Kelly banged in his second goal, and scores from Lorcan Devlin, with two quality efforts, and Casey, saw the Red Hands safely to a 20 points win.

Fermanagh scorers: Sean Corrigan 0-5 (3 frees), Francis McBrien 0-2, Andrew Breslin, John Duffy (1 free), Shea Curran 0-1 each.

Tyrone: Conor McElhatton, Padraig McHugh, Brendan Begley, Sean Muldoon, Lorcan Devlin (0-2), Stephen  Donnelly, Tiarnan Morgan (0-1), Aidan Kelly, Dermott Begley, Chris Cross, Pierse Kelly (2-1), Bryan McGurk (1-1), Matty Mulgrew (0-2), Damien Casey (1-11), Ryan McKerna.(0-1)

Subs: Justin Kelly for Dermott Begley, Darragh Grogan for Casey, Dean Rafferty for Morgan, Damhlac Rush for Muldoon, Brian McGilloway for Mulgrew.

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