Tyrone march on in McKenna Cup semi

McKenna Cup semi-final

Tyrone 0-15

Cavan 0-10

Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni

Tyrone remain on course for a ninth McKenna Cup crown since 2012 after they eased past Cavan in this evening’s semi-final.

In the corresponding fixture last year, Cavan won by 1-17 to 0-5, claiming what was just their second win from over 30 fixtures against their bogey side, stretching back to the final of this competition in 2000.

After 10 minutes, a repeat looked possible as the hosts led by 0-4 to 0-1 and were winning battles all over the pitch but as the half wore on, Tyrone took complete control and but for some wayward shooting, they would have been significantly more than three points – 0-8 to 0-5 – ahead at the break.

Apart from some fielding by David Brady, Cavan’s kick-out malfunctioned in the first half, with several restarts gathered uncontested by Tyrone players , while at the other end, Niall Morgan was able to find a white jersey at ease.

Cavan improved in the second half and were just two in arrears with 68 minutes on the clock but Tyrone fnished stronger, with three late scores to round off a five-point win which was about right in terms of a margin.

Centre-forward Gerry Smith opened the scoring with a well-taken point for Cavan and after Ryan O’Neill was fouled, Oisin Brady curled in a superb free from the left corner.

Brandon Boylan, on his first senior start, gathered a pass from Cian Madden for a mark, which he converted with conviction. Killian Clarke did likewise moments later to make it 0-4 to 0-1, with Rory Donnelly having opened the Red Hands’ account.

Tyrone soon set about eating into Cavan’s early advantage; a poacher’s point from Darragh Canavan and an excellent long-range strike by Richie Donnelly pared back the deficit within 30 seconds and after both sides missed chances – Tyrone had six first-half wides, dropped two short and hit the upright – Canavan again was on the mark to tie the game.

Cathal McShane came deep to get on possession and punished Cavan from 35 metres for the lead score. By this stage, with 25 minutes played, Cavan seemed out of ideas in the attacking half, with some of the forwards looking shot-shy against an admittedly crowded Tyrone defence.

Good scores from Michael McKernan and Peter Óg McCartan, followed by a fisted effort from McShane after he stole away from Faulkner, made it 0-8 to 0-4 before Cavan ended a 23-minute scoreless spell when Cian Madden raced along the end-line and thumped over.

When McShane hit the upright with what looked a straightforward free, David Mulgrew reacted quickest but his toe-poked effort was well saved by Cavan captain Ray Galligan.

The third quarter was cagey but Cavan were holding their own. After Canavan made it a four-point game, Boylan won a free for Oisin Brady to convert and the Killygarry attacker repeated the trick to make it 0-9 to 0-7 in the 48th minute.

A 55-metre free from Galligan drew the loudest cheer of the night from the home supporters as Cavan moved back to within one. McShane replied seconds later after a good run from the impressive Michael McKernan but from the resulting long kick-out, Oisin Brady pointed from play to again cut the margin to the minimum.

Cavan, momentum on their side, pressed high but Tyrone were able to create chances more easily. Canavan and McKernan pointed after moves through the centre of the Breffni rearguard and although Dara McVeety, thrown into the full-forward, kicked a brilliant reply, scores from Liam Nugent, Niall Sludden and Mattie Donnelly saw the visitors win going away to qualify for yet another pre-season final.

Cavan: Raymond Galligan (0-1f), Evan Finnegan, Padraig Faulkner, Niall Carolan, Ciaran Brady, Dara McVeety (0-1), Tiarnan Madden, Conor Brady, Killian Clarke (0-1m), Cian Madden (0-1), Gerard Smith (0-1), David Brady, Brandon Boylan (0-1m), Ryan O’Neill, Oisin Brady (0-4, 3f)

Subs: Conor Moynagh for Ciaran Brady (18 mins, temp, reversed 20), Moynagh for Ciaran Brady, John Cooke for N Carolan, B O’Rourke for D Brady, E Maguire for Conor Brady (all ht), Conor Madden for Boylan (50), Stephen Smith for Cian Madden, Cian Reilly for E Finnegan (both 58)

Tyrone: Niall Morgan, Nathan McCarron, Cormac Munroe, Michael McKernan (0-2), Cormac Quinn, Peter Harte, Peter Óg McCartan (0-1), Dalaigh Jones, Richard Donnelly (0-1), Rory Donnelly (0-1), Conn Kilpatrick, Kieran McGeary, Cathal McShane (0-3), Darragh Canavan (0-4), David Mulgrew

Subs: Ryan Jones for D Jones, Conor Meyler for Rory Donnelly (both 41), Niall Devlin for McCartan, Niall Sludden for McGeary, Frank Burns for Richard Donnelly (all 60), Mattie Donnelly (0-1) for C McShane, Liam Nugent for Canavan, Emmett McNabb for D Mulgrew (all 69)