Tyrone secure eighth McKenna Cup in nine seasons

McKenna Cup specialists Tyrone lifted their eighth title in nine seasons with an uninspiring win over Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds.

It was a relatively comfortable success for the holders, whose opponents were flattered by the margin, having registered their goal as a consolation score deep into stoppage time.

Manager Mickey Harte will be encouraged by the attacking form of Frank Burns and Darren McCUrry as they prepare for a Leagie campaign without key men Mattie Donnelly and Cathal McShane.

Burns was an effective target man throughout the opening half, winning his battle with Conor Boyle, and after hitting Tyrone’s opening point, he had a hand in a number of scores.

Centre back Michael O’Neill pushed forward to pick off a point, but a series of Monaghan turnover, with Boyle and Shane Carey doing some excellent work, helped Monaghan mount attacks.

However, they came up against a packed Tyrone defence, and struggled to find the openings they needed, until Shane Carey got them off the mark in the ninth minute.

The loss of key defender Colin Walshe to injury early on is a worry for Farney boss Seamus McEnaney, with a difficult NFL Division One opener away to Galway coming up this weekend.

But they got themselves on level terms in the 25th minute with a couple of well taken Conor McCarthy efforts.

The introduction of Darren McCurry on 24 minutes added a cutting edge to the Tyrone attack, and he set up a score for Kierarn McGeary and picked off three fine points himself as the holders eased clear late in the half.

They went in at the break with a 0-8 to 0-3 lead, and O’Neill stretched the advantage further, before a much-needed Monaghan score, their first in 26 minutes, came from a Shane Carey free.

And when Karl O’Connell broke tackles to set up a third score for McCarthy, Monaghan looked set to make serious inroads.

But their challenge stalled amidst missed opportunities as the Red Hands found a new wave of energy to inject life into a contest that had dipped in intensity as the second half wore on.

They had failed to register a score in the final quarter until midfielder McBennett rolled the ball to the net after Dessie Ward’s effort came back off a post.

But it was too late to halt the march of the Red Hands to yet another McKenna Cup title.

Tyrone: N Morgan; C Quinn, R McNamee, HP McGeary; M Cassidy, M O’Neill (0-1), T McCann; C Cavanagh, C Grugan; C Meyler, D Mulgrew, K McGeary (0-1); R O’Neill (0-4, 1f), F Burns (0-1), D Kerr (0-1).

Subs: D McCurry (0-3) for Mulgrew (24), B McDonnell for Cavanagh (h-t), N Sludden for M O’Neill, N Kelly for McNamee (56)

Monaghan: C Forde; C Walshe, D Wylie, C Boyle; S Carey (0-02, 1f), R Wylie, P Keenan; N Kearns, B McBennett (1-0); MP O’Dowd, R McAllister, D Ward; C McCarthy (0-3), K McEnaney, P Donnelly.

Subs: K Duffy for Walshe (3), D Malone for Donnelly (h-t), K O’Connell for Boyle (45), R McAnespie for O’Dowd (52), K Hughes for McEnaney (66)

Referee: C Branagan (Down).