Tyrone win thrilling Dr. McKenna Cup final

Tyrone GAA 2

Tyrone 1-22 Derry 1-17 (aet)

Fierce derby rivals Tyrone and Derry and Tyrone served up a classic at the Athletic Grounds, with the Red Hands emerging victorious in extra-time to take a fifth successive Dr McKenna Cup title.

Trailing by three points and down to 13 men with just a couple of minutes to play, they refused to accept defeat, and a raft of substitutions, including the outstanding Conor Meyler, swung a feisty and at time ill-tempered contest in their favour.

It was another sub, Darren McCurry, who sealed it with a late penalty goal, bringing his tally to 1-3.

James Kielt was on target for Derry in the opening minute, but they struggled to break down the Tyrone defence, and went 21 minutes without a score.

Lee Brennan edged the Red Hands in front from a free by in the sixth minute after Cathal McShane had got them off the mark, and sweeper Colm Cavanagh cut out a series of balls directed towards target men Cailean O’Boyle and Ryan Bell.

It suddenly it clicked for Damien Barton’s men, with Emmet Bradley emerging as a key figure in midfield and Enda Lynn taking on the Tyrone defence.

Their best move saw Lynn pick a hole in the Tyrone defence, trading passes with McAtamney to slot over the lead point.
Derry were awarded a penalty when Ronan McNamee tussled with O’Boyle. Ryan Bell had already converted four spot kicks in the completion, and while Niall Morgan’s save ended his 100 per cent record, he netted from the rebound on the half-hour.
Tyrone went 24 minutes without scoring, until Ronan O’Neill hit the target, but Emmet Bradley’s long range effort sent Derry in with a 1-5 to 0-4 interval lead.

Substitute Connor McAliskey narrowed the gap with a couple of frees, but another Bradley special, followed by a Christopher Bradley effort, restored the four points cushion.

Conor Meyler’s introduction gave Tyrone and injection of pace and energy, and he combined with McShane to hoist a 46th minute point, and now a goal separated the sides.

Another sub, Niall Sludden, fired over a couple of points to level it ten minutes form the end, but the game swung back in favour of the Oak Leafers, with Lynn and Conor Kearns on target.

And as a tense tie flared up, Tyrone had two men sent off, Cathal McCarron on a straight red and Ronan McNamee in a second booking, while Derry’s Daniel McKinless also departed on a second yellow.

But the Red Hands came storming back, with Meyler hitting two more, before McCurry levelled from a free in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

In extra-time, Derry pushed two ahead, but Tyrone responded with six in a row, with the flying Meyler cutting through the opposition defence to create and execute scores, as they led by 0-21 to 1-14 at the interval.

Derry came again after the restart, but the outcome was settled by McCurry’s late penalty goal.

Tyrone: N Morgan, C McCarron, R McNamee, HP McGeary (0-1), T McCann (0-1), J McMahon, B Tierney, C Cavanagh, C Clarke, H Og Conlan, M Donnelly, C McShane (0-3), L Brennan (0-4, 2f), R O’Neill (0-1), P Quinn.

Subs: P McNulty for Clarke (h-t), C McAliskey (0-3, 3f) for Quinn (h-t), C Meyler (0-3, 1f) for Conlan (h-t), D McCurry (1-3, 1-0 pen 1f) for O’Neill (46), N Sludden (0-2) for McMahon (50), J Munroe (0-1) for McShane (70), K McGeary (71), C McCann (71), C Hampsey for Tierney (72) McShane for HP McGeary (75)

Derry: T Mallon, M Craig C Mullan, K McKaigue, G McKinless, C McKaigue, D Heavron, B Rogers, E Bradley (0-2), E Lynn (0-3), J Kielt (0-3, 2f), B Heron, S Heavron, C O’Boyle (0-1, f), R Bell (1-1, 0-1f).

Subs: C McAtamney (0-1) for Rogers (1), C Bradley (0-1) for S Heavron (31), O Duffy (0-1) for Craig (40), C Kearns (0-2) for Heron (49), D McKinless for Bell (52), N Forrester (0-1) for G McKinless (58), G McKinless (71), G McWilliams (0-1, f) for Kielt (78), P Quinn for D Heavron (81), S Mulgrew for Kearns (82)

Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).