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Tyrone dig deep to earn shot at sixth McKenna title in a row

Fermanagh 0-11 Tyrone 0-14

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone made it to the final of the Dr McKenna Cup once again on a chilly day in Clones, with Derry now standing in their way of a sixth straight crown - which would be the 10th of Mickey Harte's reign - this Saturday night in Newry.

Semi-final opponents Fermanagh appeared largely compliant with the accepted narrative of the game until a sparky confrontation between Aidan Breen and Tyrone's Padraig Hampsey in the 54th minute finally brought some life into a game that was, well, just plain boring.

Fermanagh hit five of the last six points and were left to rue a spurned goal chance in the first half when James McMahon squared the ball across the face of goal to Eoin Donnelly, but his fisted contact with the ball - made more difficult with the pass slightly behind him - was not enough to breach the net.

With a slew of college kids back, Harte offered some context for their tail-off in performance in the final quarter.

"That's three games in a week for these players and you have to factor that in as well," he reasoned.

"The conditions, it might look nice from the outside there but when you are going through that for 70 minutes three times a week it certainly takes it out of you.

"It's good preparation for stamina training and ball-handling skills. That was the most competitive game we have had since the first day against Cavan. I think that will only stand to us as we go into the final and then Roscommon."

He granted credit to Fermanagh, who definitely perked up when they introduced a number of subs such as Daryl Keenan, Cathal Beacom and Sean Quigley, out and out attackers who almost doubled the tally of the first-half display that only brought one point from play.

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath was left to rue that missed chance from Donnelly. He stated: "To be winning a game against the likes of Tyrone you have to be converting a high percentage of your scoring opportunities.

"You really do have to, because if you are working hard and get the ball down the field and the ball is kicked wide, it fills their lungs with oxygen and we are deflated. That happened a number of times and the overall effect can be a very deflationary one."

TYRONE: M O'Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; R McNabb, T McCann, P Harte 0-4f; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; D McClure, N Sludden, N McKenna 0-1; D McCurry 0-6, 3f, C McShane 0-1, L Brennan 0-1

Subs: S Cavanagh for C Cavanagh (31, blood sub, C Cavanagh back on for half-time), P Hampsey for McCrory, M Donnelly for Harte (half-time), M Bradley 0-1 for McKenna (45), C Meyler for C Cavanagh (49), R O'Neill for Brennan (60), C McCullagh for Sludden (69)

Yellow cards: Harte (24), S Cavanagh (35), McNabb (71)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: 0

FERMANAGH: T Tracey; M Jones, C Cullen, C McManus; D McCusker, R McCluskey, P Reihill; L Cullen, E Donnelly; P McCusker 0-1, J McMahon, A Breen 0-1; B Mulrone, E Courtney 0-1, T Corrigan 0-6f

Subs: D Keenan for McMahon (h-time), McMahon for McCluskey (45), C Beacom for Reihill (51), S Quigley 0-2f for Courtney (52), T McCaffrey for Mulrone (58)

Yellow cards: Jones (26), McCaffrey (66), Corrigan (75)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: 0

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)

Belfast Telegraph

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