Red Hands fall short

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Red Hands fall short thumbnailTyrone's Ronan O'Neill

TYRONE'S bid to win a seventh successive Dr McKenna Cup title was denied by Donegal in a quality decider at the Athletic Grounds.

Donegal ...1-16
Tyrone ...1-12

In a highly competitive encounter, the men from Tir Chonail emerged with a four points victory and a first title since 2010.

The Red Hands held the led for barely three minutes following Harry Loughran's first half goal, and were unable to overhaul a determined opponent.

"There was plenty of chances created by both sides. Sometimes we just didn't finish as well as we would have liked to and I'm sure Donegal kicked a number of wides in the first half they probably should have got as well," said Tyrone manager Mickey Hatre.

"They came after this cup tonight and they have it. That's what happens in a final, somebody wins and somebody loses. Tonight we are the losers.

" We were chasing the game for quite a bit. The big thing was that we got back level in the second half, we needed the next score but we couldn't get our noses ahead. They were very capable of picking off scores."

Both sides fielded without a number of regulars, and the Red Hands were left to reflect on a number of missed opportunities which could hve made a significant difference.

"We put on some senior players and Donegal did the same thing. It was a close encounter and there was times when we could have taken a hold on the game. In the first half we created more than decent goal chances and we didn't get anything out of it," said Harte.

"We needed to get those scores and obviously then Donegal pushed ahead in the second half. We got back level with them with points but they just picked off the scores again. There's no-one better in that situation at holding onto a lead than Donegal and they did it very well. We needed a goal and we weren't going to get a goal in that second half.

"I thought it was a very good competitive match. It was a good spectacle for the final of the McKenna Cup. Donegal had their designs on winning it and now they have it."

Despite the loss of Tiernan McCann due to injury, Harte dies not intend to strengthen his squad with addition of new players.

"I don't anticipate that at the moment. Normally we would review things at the end of the McKenna Cup. I'm not saying the door is closed on anybody but we won't be thinking about that too much right now. There is a few very important league games coming up and our total focus will be on that."

The Tyrone boss added: "We close the book now on the McKenna Cup and we re-open the book on the league. The next few league points are crucial and we need a good number of them to stay in this Division. Every game from here on has a Championship fervour about it.

"The next two games we play are against Ulster teams, Monaghan and Donegal, and I expect they will be really tough encounters. It will be a very tough call to try and get the points we need out of those games but we have to go after them,"

Daire O Baoilll's well taken score helped Donegal get the upper hand early on, but a Kieran McGeary score and a superb Conall McCann effort had the sides level at 0-2 each following a frantic start to the game.

Donegal pushed on again, scores from Martin McElhinney and wing back O Baoill easing the, into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead, but in the seventh minute, the Red Hands struck for a goal.

It was McCann who slipped a pass to Harry Loughran, and as he has done so often for The Moy during a historic season, he finished to the net from close range.

Three minutes later, however, the men from the north-west had the ball in the net, a delightful dinked effort from McElhinney regaining the lead for them.

And they followed up with scores from Paul Brennan and Marty O'Reilly to go ahead by 1-6 to 1-2.

Odhran MacNiallais, who was an influential figure around midfield, sent over a long range point to stretch the lead to five, after Ronan O'Neill had seen an effort saved by goalkeeper Shaun Patton.

With Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNabb and Kieran McGeary tightening things up at the back, and Michael Cassidy making penetrating runs from deep, the Red Hands got back on the attack, with Darren McCurry landing an excellent point and O'Neill converting a free.

Despite losing impressive attacker Stephen McBrearty through injury, Donegal stormed forward again for scores from O'Reilly and defender Frank McGlynn, but Tyrone full back Cathal McCarron pushed forward to pick off a rare score, and another O'Neill free left just three points in it at the break, Donegal ahead by 1-9 to 1-6.

Some excellent work by Kieran McGeary carved the opening for Declan McClure to curl over a point early in the second half, but Donegal replied instantly through substitute Niall O'Donnell

Both sides introduced some big guns off the bench around the 40 minute mark, with Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte coming in for Tyrone, and Donegal's Michael Murphy also joining the action.

And Donnelly played a part in the move that led to another Ronan O'Neill score. O'Neill added two more from frees to bring the sides level in the 46th minute, but Donegal, putting pressure on the Tyrone kick-out, turned the screw again.

Two more O'Donnell points regained the lead, with Murphy also hoisting a long range effort, thanks to another immense contribution from man of the match MacNiallais.

O'Neill converted another free, and sent Loughran through for a shot which clipped the crossbar on its way over, and with 12 minutes to play, just a point separated the sides.

Paul Brennan and Murphy tagged on points, and as time ticked away, it was becoming clear that Tyrone would need a goal, but some superb defending from Donegal ensure that they would not be given an opportunity.

And they finished with 14 men, with Donnelly picking up a second booking in stoppage time, as Murphy sealed it with a late score.

Donegal: Shaun Patton; Stephen McMenamin, Eamonn Doherty, Conor Morrison; Daire O Baoill (0-2), Frank McGlynn (0-1), Paul Brennan (0-2); Odhran MacNiallais (0-1), Hugh McFadden; Mark McHugh, Martin McElhinney (1-1), Caolan McGonagle; Ciaran Thompson (0-1), Stephen McBrearty, Marty O'Reilly (0-2).

Subs: Niall O'Donnell (0-3) for McBrearty, Michael Murphy (0-3) for McElhinney, Nathan Mullins for O'Reilly, Caolan Ward for McGlynn, Brenan McCole for McGonagle, Neill McGee for Doherty.

Tyrone: Mickey O'Neill; Aidan McCrory, Cathal McCarron (0-1) , Brendan Burns; Michael Cassidy, Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNabb; Declan McClure (0-1), Ben McDonnell; Kieran McGeary (0-1), Harry Loughran (1-1), Conall McCann (0-1); Darren McCurry (0-1), Ronan McHugh, Ronan O'Neill (0-6).

Subs: Mattie Donnelly for Cassidy, Cathal McShane for McClure, Peter Harte for McGeary, Hugh Pat McGeary for McCrory, Conor Meyler for McDonnell, Niall Sludden for Loughran.


Subscribe to read full newspaper »

Send to a friend

Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.

In order to process your information we must ask you to enter the letters in the image into the box:

CAPTCHA Image play audio version Reload Image

* Mandatory field - please complete