Tyrone 2-13 Derry 1-7
By Barry O’Donnell
Goals in either half from Colm Cavanagh and Peter Harte (penalty) set holders Tyrone on the road to a crushing victory over Derry in the Dr McKenna Cup Final at Newry on Saturday night, so winning the pre-season provincial competition for the sixth year running.
Inspired by man of the match Mattie Donnelly the Red Hands put their Sperrin neighbours to the sword in ruthless fashion.
Indeed were it not for an injury time goal by Niall Loughlin, the winning margin would have been even more humiliating for Damian Barton’s wounded side.
Emmet McGuckin, one of three late changes in the Derry starting line-up, opened the scoring with a fine score in the third minute after latching onto Enda Lynn’s pass.
Red Hand attacking thrusts were more sporadic in the early juncture, despite an excellent conversion on the left peg by Ronan O’Neill.
Lynch struck over a 20m free to restore Derry’s advantage in the sixth minute but remarkably that was to be their last score of the half as their challenge wilted.
Declan McClure struck over a stylish effort to level up matters and then in the 17th minute Tyrone struck for a goal which completely knocked the stuffing out of the opposition. The alert Ronan O’Neill capitalised on some Derry hesitation in defence to swoop and release McNulty who in turn set up his midfield partner Colm Cavanagh to rifle a shot high past keeper Thomas Mallon.
The Oak Leafers almost responded with a goal of their own as James Kielt set Ryan Bell in the clear but his rasping drive cracked off the bar and the danger was averted.
The importance of this miss loomed large as the match moved into the second quarter, with Derry’s play becoming more ragged and hesitant in the face of Tyrone’s greater intensity and mobility.
Peter Harte slipped over a close range free, before Matthew Donnelly showed his marker Bell a clean pair of heels to skip up the right wing and float over a beauty.
Ronan O’Neill benefitted from Declan McClure’s 50 yard burst to split the posts, before O’Neill then shirked off a couple of meaty challenges to put Bradley in the clear to rifle over another Tyrone point.
Bradley added another shortly after, following a quick exchange between O’Neill and Harte, and with O’Neill also denied a goal by a smart save from Mallon, there was no doubt who held all the aces going in at the break. (Half-time Tyrone 1-7 Derry 0-2)
An early second half Conor Meyler point suggested there would be no let up from the holders, and while James Kielt did swing over a couple of frees, Derry looked a demoralised unit.
With the imperious Mattie Donnelly and Cahir McCullagh among the point getters, Tyrone were able to coast along for much of the second period.
And when Harte blasted home a goal from the spot in the 58th minute after Ronan O’Neill was fouled, the Cup was heading back to Tyrone for the sixth year running.
James Kielt (0-3,3 frees), Niall Loughlin (1-0), Mark Lynch (0-2,2 frees), Emmet McGuckin, Ryan Bell (0-1 each)
Peter Harte (1-2,2 frees), Colm Cavanagh (1-0), Mark Bradley (0-2), Matthew Donnelly (0-2), Ronan O’Neill (0-2), Conor Meyler, Declan McClure, Cahir McCullagh, Niall Sludden, Conal McCann (0-1 each)
TYRONE’S livewire forward Mark Bradley is embracing the hype set to engulf the county ahead of their mammoth All-Ireland...