TYRONE 2-13 FERMANAGH 0-6
TYRONE signed off their Ulster Minor League programme with a convincing victory over Fermanagh at Dromore on Sunday morning, with second half goals from Kelvin Nelson and Liam McGeary putting the seal on their triumph.
A spot in next weekend’s decider was out of reach for the Red Hands, with Donegal already assured of that berth, but with the countdown well and truly on to the commencement of the Ulster Championship in a few week’s time, there was still a keen competitive edge to proceedings.
Perhaps the early throw-in time (10.45am) contributed to the fairly sleepy opening to the exchanges, with both teams slow to get into their stride. McDermott belted over the first of his frees in the fourth minute to hand Fermanagh the lead, while midfielder, Dara Cathcart, also spurned a goal opportunity when he burst through, but could only fire tamely into the grateful clutches of Tyrone keeper, Ronan Bradley.
The Red Hands got back on level terms, when Nelson wriggled his way through to slot over in style, but, in the main, they were slow to settle.
Howe did spray a superb pass inside to Conor Holmes, but he couldn’t direct his effort on target, handing Fermanagh a reprieve.
McDermott restored the visitors’ lead just before the quarter hour mark, only for McGeary to level matters up again as he drilled over in style.
With Tyrone keeper, Ronan Bradey, operating out the field on occasions (particularly when looking to pressure the opposition kick-outs), the home side began to boss the territorial stakes, and soon made that count on the scoreboard.
Sheehan Fay picked out McGeary and he swivelled sharply to convert, while Fermanagh keeper, Calvin Brown, had to be on his guard to tip Nelson’s looping effort over his own crossbar. Brown then displayed more agility between the sticks to divert Matty McNally’s well-struck drive behind for a ‘45’.
His counterpart at the other end, Bradley, banged over the resultant deadball to leave it 0-5 to 0-2, but before the break, McDermott hoisted another quality long-range free to ensure Fermanagh were very much in contention at the interval.
The hosts doubled that advantage within moments of the restart, as Bradley split the posts with another ‘45’, and the increasingly influential Howe slipped over a free.
Fermanagh were in need of a boost and that timely fillip so nearly arrived when Oisin Swift delivered a beauty inside to Darragh Flanagan, but, before he could pull the trigger, Eoin Canavan pulled off a super tackle to dislodge him of possession.
This intercept proved all the more vital, as Tyrone then swooped for the opening goal in the 37th minute.
McGeary’s deft handpass set up the chance for Nelson, and he did the rest with a crisp finish past Brown.
With Tyrone in the ascendancy 1-7 to 0-3, it was understandable that there was a drop-off in intensity levels.
Fermanagh stuck admirably to their task, but they were getting little change out of the Red Hand rearguard at this juncture. Their own back unit, in fairness, provided the Tyrone attack with little leeway to wreak havoc, though another brace of frees by Howe and score from play by the Killyclogher lad, stretched the gap up to ten points – 1-10 to 0-3 – entering the last ten minutes.
McDermott got Fermanagh’s first score of the second half in the 55th minute, and he was to add another two before the close.
By that stage, though, Tyrone had registered another green flag, with Davagh Loughran’s precision pass setting the chance up on a plate for McGeary who sidestepped Brown and tucked the ball into the empty net. Further late points by Howe put the final gloss on the day for the hosts.
Matthew Howe (0-6,4frees), Kelvin Nelson (1-2), Liam McGeary (1-2), Ronan Bradley (0-2,2 ’45s’), Conor Holmes (0-1)
Mattie McDermott (0-6,6frees)
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