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Tyrone still have super six in their sights after strong finish

Tyrone 2-17 UUJ 1-07

By Kevin Kelly

Tyrone got their hopes of a sixth McKenna Cup title in a row back on track at Carrickmore yesterday but it was only in the second half that they managed to put UUJ to the sword.

The Red Hands fielded a strong side - in a game postponed from Saturday night - that included Colm Cavanagh, Cathal McCarron and Justin McMahon who were all making their first appearance of the season although they were forced to call up a few U21s as well.

The home side did get an early goal through full forward Niall McKenna but they failed to build on that and only led by two points at the break. In the second half though the UUJ challenge faded to such an extent that they managed just a single point.

It means that Tyrone go into Wednesday night's game with Donegal needing another win to keep their semi-final hopes alive and their manager Mickey Harte feels that they will have to improve.

"It was a case of getting the Christmas cobwebs out of the system," he said.

"I wouldn't have been very happy with our first half performance and we were a bit lethargic and we were letting them dictate the pace of the game.

"We needed more from our players in the second half and I have to say we did get that."

Lee Brennan, who finished top scorer with 0-7 to his name, opened the scoring for Tyrone but that was cancelled out by his All Ireland U21 winning team mate Ruairi McGlone.

Brennan and Ronan McHugh added two points in as many minutes and while Daire Gallagher replied with a point for UUJ the winners then grabbed their first goal.

Peter Harte was the creator as he squared the ball for McKenna to palm to the net from close range past keeper Sean Fox. Niall Madine, Ronan McAlinden and Gallagher kicked three of the next four points for UUJ, Harte with a fine effort from distance for the holders.

Brennan and Harte tagged on further scores but in the 34th minute Madine fisted the ball to the net past keeper Mickey O'Neill. McKenna and McHugh hit back with points but a Terence O'Brien point left it all to play for in the second period.

Tyrone needed a good start to the second half and they got it when newcomer McHugh burst through the UUJ defence before giving substitute keeper Ronan McGeary no chance with an explosive finish to the top right hand corner of the net.

The home side though continued to struggle for scores and with 20 minutes of the second half gone they only managed to add a point each from Brennan and Declan McClure.

It took UUJ 25 minutes to get their one and only score of the second half, Daire Gallagher knocking over a '45'. Either side of that his Trillick club mate Brennan kicked three points as Tyrone finished strongly.

Ronan O'Neill, who came off bench, managed to notch three points with defender Johnny Monroe also on target as the Red Hands emerged emphatic winners in the end.

Tyrone: M O'Neill, P Hampsey, J McMahon, C McCarron, R McNabb, D McClure (0-1), J Monroe (0-1), C Cavanagh, P McNulty, P Harte (0-2), N Sludden, C McCullagh, L Brennan (0-7), N McKenna, R McHugh (1-3). Subs: D McCurry for McKenna, R O'Neill (0-3) for McNulty, Niall Kelly for McCullagh, Ben McDonnell for Cavanagh, M McKernan for McCarron

UUJ: S Fox, R Kelly, C Boylan, C McCann, M Walsh, G McKinless, D McKeown, R McGlone (0-1), J Kearney, D Gallagher (0-3), S McGahan, T O'Brien (0-1), B Grant, N Madine (1-1), R McAlinden (0-1). Subs: R McGeary for Fox, C O'Neill for McGahan, John Fitzgerald for Grant, K Colgan for R McAlinden

Referee: P Faloon (Down)

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