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GAA: How the players rated as Tyrone ease past Down to win Ulster title

Ratings by John Campbell

Clones was once again taken over by the men and women among the Bushes as Tyrone defended their Ulster title with complete ease against Down.

In the lead-up to this final, Mickey Harte was often given to recounting the last time they defended an Ulster title. They hammered Monaghan in 2010 and nobody even thought of entering the field to celebrate the aftermath.

This time, the match day announcer made his appeal a few minutes from the end for fans not to enter the pitch, with Tyrone cruising. It was met with jeers and amusement. Minutes later, the place was awash with red and white.

Very few Ulster titles are captured with one team so clearly ahead of all the rest in the province. When they are, such as Donegal’s tour de force in 2012, then All-Ireland titles come into sharp focus.

DECLAN BOGUE'S TAKE ON THE GAME: Tyrone breeze to Ulster title with eight point win over Down

In beating Derry by 11 points, Donegal by nine and now Down by eight points, Harte has now captured his sixth Anglo-Celt Cup with the Red Hands. Should they go one further than last year and make it to the All-Ireland semi-final, they are on course to meet Dublin. And what an occasion that would be.

Here's how the players all the players fared during Sunday's big game.

DOWN

Michael Cunningham: Looked safe under the high ball, had no chance with the two shots that beat him and landed a late point from a free. 7

Niall McParland: Defended tenaciously but often found himself by two attackers when Tyrone pressed forward. 6

Gerard McGovern: Tried hard to shackle Sean Cavanagh, covered smartly and drove forward in the first half. 7

Darren O’Hagan: The captain tried to lead by example but was restricted to a containing role. 7

Darragh O’Hanlon: His free kicking was impressive as was his endeavour but a glaring miss when he had the goal at his mercy just before half-time proved crucial. 6

Conaill McGovern: Had his hands full in trying to keep tabs on the enterprising Sludden and came under more pressure as the match progressed. 6

Caolan Mooney: Got through a lot of work in the second half in particular when he scored three points and was always willing to take the game to Tyrone. 7

Kevin McKernan: Made one searing first half burst but his world caved in when he was shown a black card. 6

Niall Donnelly: Looked very efficient and business-like in the first half, he faded after the break but still managed to pirate a point. 7

Peter Turley: Toiled hard, put in some big hits but was caught for pace on occasions. 6

Conor Maginn: Was unable to stamp his imprint on the proceedings but managed to score a great point — his only real contribution. 6

Shay Millar: Threatened occasionally in the first half, landed a point but struggled afterwards and was substituted. 6

Jerome Johnston: Endured frustration for the most part, was booked in the 31st minute and called ashore 20 minutes later. 6

Connaire Harrison: Found himself held in a vice-like grip by the Red Hands rearguard, his input severely restricted. 6

Ryan Johnston: Showed rich promise prior to the break, potted two points overall but his flair was shackled. 6

Subs: Joe Murphy for McKernan (40): Did not really make an impact despite trying hard when his side were swimming against the tide. 6

David McKibben for Peter Turley (47): Scored a point and could have had more with decent possession. 6

Donal O’Hare for Jerome Johnston (50): Never got the chance to unveil his finishing. 6

Mark Poland for Millar (58): Only participated for a few minutes before picking up a nasty injury. 5

Aidan Carr for Donnelly (60): His experience failed to galvanise the defence in the closing stages. 5

Sean Dornan for Maginn (62): Never quite got to grips with the pace of the action as the game ebbed away. 5

TYRONE

Niall Morgan: Varied his kick-outs well and handled capably on a day when his long-range scoring ability was not required. 6

Aidan McCrory: Strong in the tackle and keen to counter-attack, the Errigal Ciaran club man was his usual resolute self. 7

Ronan McNamee: His duel with Connaire Harrison was expected to be a key sideshow but the Aghyaran man was certainly the master on this particular occasion. 7

Cathal McCarron: Looked very busy before being booked in the first half and then incurred a red card late in the game. 6

Tiernan McCann: Was in perpetual motion from start to finish helping to thwart Down’s forward forays and mount a number of incursions that paid dividends. 7

Padraig Hampsey: Scored three points from play, underlined his growing maturity and indeed authority within the side and exuded confidence throughout with a fine display. 9

Peter Harte: Played his usual selfless role, particularly when it came to winning second-phase possession for his team and forcing Down onto the back foot. 8

Colm Cavanagh: Less prominent than he was against Donegal but still managed to put in a solid shift both in defence and attack. 6

Conall McCann: Caught the eye particularly in the first half when he broke forward repeatedly before ensuring that Down played second fiddle in the middle third after half-time. 7

David Mulgrew: Showed an appetite for the ball, scored a fine point from play and was substituted in the 55th minute. 6

Niall Sludden: Formed his team’s attacking axis in the first half, carried the ball comfortably and rarely wasted a pass in an impressive performance from start to finish. 8

Kieran McGeary: Gave an indication that he could make an impact as the game unfolded before falling victim to a black card which terminated his involvement. 6

Mark Bradley: Did not quite enjoy the rub of the green in the first-half when he found Darren O’Hagan’s attentions stifling but swept over two superb points immediately after the break to put his side on a roll. 7

Sean Cavanagh: Once again the skipper led by fine example, his brace of points and his general work-rate underlining his ongoing value to the side. 7

Matthew Donnelly: Proved hugely influential both in defence and attack and covered a lot of ground in linking the play throughout. 8

Subs: Declan McClure for McGeary (half-time BC): Put in a huge effort, particularly in the close exchanges. 7

Darren McCurry for Sean Cavanagh (50): Set up a goal for Ronan O’Neill and might have had at least one point himself. 6

Ronan O’Neill for Bradley (53): Scored two splendid goals, looked to be right on top of his game. 8

Conor Meyler for Mulgrew (55): Used his pace and energy to good effect in the closing stages although the issue was beyond doubt. 6

Cathal McShane for Conall McCann (57): Was industrious and gritty as his team closed out the game. 6

Lee Brennan for Sludden (64): Scored a point and looked particularly sharp when in possession. 6

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