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Clinical Harte's high five paves way for Tyrone

Tyrone 0-10 Fermanagh 0-04

Heads up: Cian McManus and Tyrone’s Ciaran McLaughlin
Heads up: Cian McManus and Tyrone’s Ciaran McLaughlin
Hands on: Fermanagh’s Ryan Jones comes under intense pressure from Tyrone ace Brian Kennedy at Healy Park

By Kevin Kelly

Tyrone made it three wins out of three to top Section C in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup as they edged past Fermanagh in a low-scoring encounter at Healy Park in Omagh last night.

It was a game that was played in difficult conditions with heavy fog making life tough for both sets of players. The visitors set up very defensively and that made for a poor first half with both sides managing only two points each.

The second period proved to be better and once Tyrone finally got their noses in front they never looked back with Peter Harte top scoring for the Red Hands with five points, all from frees.

The Ernemen struggled to regroup after they fell behind and the game finished in disappointing fashion for them when they ended up with 13 men after two players were black-carded late on and they had used all their substitutes.

Tyrone had the better of things in terms of possession but they could make no inroads into a tight-marking Fermanagh defence with their full-back line in particular outstanding.

The opening score of the game arrived in the seventh minute courtesy of wing-half-forward Aidan Breen after good approach play from Ryan Jones. Play was scrappy with both sides falling foul of the new handpass rule on several occasions.

It took the home side 21 minutes to open their account as Harte made no mistake from a 30m free after full-back Hugh Pat McGeary had been fouled.

Fermanagh, though, wasted no time in getting their noses back in front again and it was another quality score with midfielder Ryan Jones once again involved with a strong run before laying the ball off for his brother Conall to take a fine score with his left foot.

Both sides had three first-half wides and it was the Red Hands who had the final say with another successful placed ball from Harte in injury-time after fellow half-back Ben McDonnell had been fouled.

Ronan O'Neill had a goal chance blocked early in the second half before corner-back Kane Connor put the visitors in front with a fine point. A Harte free levelled matters before Tyrone took a lead that they were never to lose when David Mulgrew turned sharply before taking their first point from play in the 44th minute.

Corner-back Ciaran McLaughlin then got forward to raise a white flag before Erne substitute Garvan Jones closed the gap to the minimum again.

That proved to be Fermanagh's last score of the night, though, as Tyrone turned the screw.

Conan Grugan burst through to fire over before goalkeeper Niall Morgan converted a superb long-range free from under the Stand.

Fermanagh lost Conall Jones and Ryan Jones to black cards in the same incident following a scuffle before Red Hands substitute Kyle Coney weighed in with the score of the game.

It was all Tyrone at this stage and as the contest slipped into injury-time Fermanagh fouls were punished by another two frees from the boot of the accurate Harte.

The Red Hands now play Derry on Sunday afternoon with a place in the McKenna Cup decider at stake.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, 1F), L Rafferty, HP McGeary, C McLaughlin (0-1), B McDonnell, R Brennan, P Harte (0-5, 5F), C Grugan (0-1), B Kennedy, N Sludden, C McCann, R Gray, D Mulgrew (0-1), C McShane, R O'Neill.

Subs: K Coney (0-1) for Gray, D Canavan for N Sludden, R Sludden for Mulgrew, D McClure for Grugan, A McCrory for McDonnell.

Fermanagh: T Treacy, J Cassidy, C McManus, K Connor (0-1), U Kelm, J McMahon, L Cullen, T Clarke, R Jones, A Breen (0-1), K McDonnell, D Teague, C Corrigan, C Jones (0-1), C Magee.

Subs: R Lyons for Teague, G Jones (0-1, 1F) for McDonnell, D McGurn for Clarke, C Flaherty for Magee, S McGullion for McMahon.

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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