Sports

Lennonís pride as hurlers fall short

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

TYRONE manager Mattie Lennon spoke of his pride in his players after they pushed Derry all the way in the Ulster Hurling Shield final.

The Red Hands threatened a major upset, but fell just short in the end as the Oak Leafers took the prize, and with it a place in next year's Senior Championship.

Lennon's team walked off the pitch at Pairc Eire Og in Carrickmore with their heads held high, and confidence soaring following a quality display that showcased their hurling talents and highlighted the passion they have for the game.

“We knew that we have got great hurlers and great players in the team. It was just a matter of going out there and believing in it, and competing with Derry, and we did compete with them all over the field," said Lennon. "I'm delighted with the character that we showed.

“I'm disappointed that we didn't come out with a victory in the end, because there was an opportunity there towards the end.

“There was only five points in it, a couple of pucks of the ball, and maybe we took a couple of wrong shot selections that brought it into a very close finish."

Tyrone trailed by just three points at the break after playing against the wind, and went level early in the second half, but they were pegged back by an experienced Derry side.

“We knew at half-time that we had done well to be in the game, and to only be only three points down after playing against the breeze.

“We fought really hard.

“But we knew in the second half Derry were going to come out and up their game, and they did.

“But we got the goal and got level, but we didn't really push on, and a couple of wee mistakes and Derry got back into the game, got a couple of points. So maybe it was that wee bit of experience that told out in the end."

Lennon was pleased to see the high levels of intensity displayed by his side from start to finish as they put their opponents under incessant pressure.

“That's an ingredient that you should have no matter what the game. That has to come from within, that tenacity, that want, that desire, and we had it today.

“That will bring you to a certain level, and then your hurling will kick in.

“We played some good hurling to complement that, and we had to match Derry for that intensity, and we did, but unfortunately we came out the wrong side of the result."

Now the heavy defeat to Donegal in the NFL Division 3A final has been well and truly pushed out of the system, and it's a positive outlook for Tyrone as they look to build on what they have achieved.

“We didn't get going against Donegal at all in the first ten or fifteen minutes. Donegal built up a lead, and then it was very difficult to claw it back.

“But we knew we had to get into the game from the start today, and it was key that we matched Derry from the first whistle, and we did.

“That meant that we made a game of it, and it showed. It was nip and tuck most of the way through.

“Some of the things that we have been working in in training have been coming out."

It was a game that has set the Red Hands up nicely for this weekend's Nicky Rackard Cup opener against Monaghan.

“We're looking forward to the Monaghan game in the Nicky Rackard. It's going to be a tough game, because we have played Monaghan already twice in the league. They have won one and we have won one.

“So it's not going to be easy, it's championship hurling again. But we're looking forward to getting back to training, to try to build on today, to try to build on that confidence and belief, and drive into the next game.

“We'll bring today's game into it, we'll look at it, we'll analyse it, we'll look at some of the things that we maybe could do better, and improve on that for the next day."

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