TYRONE are tops in Ulster for the second year running after a resounding victory saw them dispose of the Down challenge by 2-17 to 0-15 in the sun at Clones.
Victory in the game saw them take the Anglo Celt Cup for the 14th time, but they now have their sights set on the bigger prize of winning their All-Ireland Quarter Final clash at the start of next month.
An attendance of almost 32,000 watched as the Red Hands confidently cruised past the challenge of the surprise finalists from the Mourne county.
While the game was tightly contested in the first half – Tyrone led by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time – they upped the tempo dramatically on the resumption.
A series of well-taken points put them further ahead and effectively sealed the title. David Mulgrew, Sean Cavanagh, Mark Bradley, Peter Harte and Tiernan and Conall McCann all hit the target as they opened up a nine point, 0-14 to 0-5 advantage.
Then came two sublime goals from Ronan O’Neill. He grabbed the first after taking a pass from David Mulgrew for the first in the 20th minute. Then, he cheekily lobbed the Down goalkeeper, Michael Cunningham for the second, to leave them leading by 2-15 to 0-10.
The pace of the game understandably slackened considerably in the closing stages, but there was never any doubting Tyrone’s dominance as they clinched the sixth provincial title under the management of Mickey Harte.
Afterwards, the team manager was delighted with the win, but already focused on the All-Ireland Quarter Final.
“The game was pretty intense and Down were very difficult to break down when they were with us every step. We felt a good start was needed to give us a cushion at the start of the second half and thankfully that was produced,” he said.
“Our ability to get a good run of play and convert the scoring chances was the big thing for us. We produced that golden spell before half-time against Donegal and it was after the break today. Those scores put us into a really good place.
“A performance like that was really the winning of the game for us. It’s good to have won the Anglo Celt Cup again, the win means that we’re into a new competition and when the Qualifiers are all sorted out there’ll be eight counties remaining.”