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Red Hands begin Cup defence in style

Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup: Tyrone 3-17 - Queen's 0-11

By Francis Mooney

Published 04/01/2016

Attack: Queen’s Che Cullen attempts to make a break
Attack: Queen’s Che Cullen attempts to make a break

Tyrone's potent mix of youth and experience set a stiff examination for Queen's at Healy Park, where the Dr McKenna Cup holders got off to a flyer.

The students caused problems in the opening quarter, but once an experimental Red Hand side started to purr, there was only going to be one winner.

Ronan O'Neill, Johnny Munroe and Connor McAliskey all fired in goals, while youngster Lee Brennan proved himself a deadly placed ball finisher, converting six frees and landing a point from play in the first-half.

Marty Clarke's incisive passing set up scores for Michael Monan and Ryan Murray as James McCartan's men started with confidence.

It was 0-5 to 0-1 in favour of the university side after 15 minutes, with Murray and corner back Greg McCabe on target.

But the Red Hands hit 1-5 in a blistering 10-minute spell, with Brennan landing frees before Ronan O'Neill finished to the net in the 25th minute.

Kieran McGeary stood out among a clutch of impressive newcomers, with Padraig Hampsey solid at full back.

Clarke landed a long range free, but another flourish saw Mickey Harte's men hit four more before the break, two each from Brennan and O'Neill, to lead by 1-10 to 0-6.

Donal McKeever sent an angled shot zipping wide at the far post as QUB sought a way back, and they pulled back scores through Monan, Clarke and the excellent Brendan Rogers.

But the game was effectively ended by Tyrone's second goal from sub Munroe on 48 minutes.

O'Neill's form and finishing power came as one of several sources of encouragement for boss Harte, while Peter Harte sliced through the opposition defence on several occasions.

Tyrone had to play the final 15 minutes with 14 men following the second yellow card dismissal of McGeary, but were unfazed.

And it was Peter Harte who provided the pass for Connor McAliskey to rifle home a stoppage time goal, after Hugh Pat McGeary and goalkeeper Niall Morgan, from a 45, had put the contest further to bed.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, '45), A McCrory, P Hampsey, HP McGeary (0-1), B Tierney, C Clarke, K McGeary, H Og Conlan, R Donnelly, C McShane, P Harte (0-2), N Sludden, M Bradley, R O'Neill (1-5, 0-3f), L Brennan (0-7, 6f). Subs: J Munroe (1-0) for Tierney, P McNulty for Sludden, S Cavanagh for Brennan, C McAliskey (1-0) for McShane, J McMahon (0-1) for Clarke.

Queen's: J Maguire, G McCabe (0-1), G McGovern, B Burns, N Delargey, B Rogers (0-1), S Heffron, C Cullen, A Doherty, R Corrigan, M Clarke (0-2, 2f), D McAleese, M Monan (0-2), D McKeever, R Murray (0-4, 3f). Subs: C Lavelle for Doherty, C Martin (0-1) for McKeever, C Hamill for Corrigan, N Brady for McAleese, S Mullan for Burns, P McKenna for Cullen.

Referee: S Laverty (Antrim).

Belfast Telegraph

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