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Tyrone 2-9 Fermanagh 0-7

By Declan Bogue

Three times now Mickey Harte has faced his former captain Peter Canavan as opposing managers, all of those encounters coming in January football.

The old master maintained his 100% record over his Errigal Ciaran clubmate in this semi-final to go through to meet neighbours Monaghan in the McKenna Cup final, back in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday night.

A few things were noticeable about the shape of the Tyrone side.

With the Donegal management team of Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher looking on, Harte did not start Peter Harte — who would be held over until the second half.

More to that, Stephen O'Neill switched from his deeper role last week to line up as a more traditional full-forward alongside Darren McCurry, scorer of five points from play against Antrim last week.

Fermanagh were feisty in the opening half, with a durable defence in which John Woods and Martin O'Brien excelled.

On too many occasions though they would do the heavy lifting only for the ball to the inside men Daryl Keenan and Paul Ward to be of poor quality.

Canavan acted decisively to rectify this, replacing the ineffective Kane Connor with Sean Quigley, who was stationed on the square, with Keenan drawn further out.

There was always a feeling though that Tyrone could open the pipes and start singing sweetly as the snow gently tumbled out of the sky.

Sean Cavanagh embarked on a few typical runs, slotting one over himself before he played his part in a goal involving Conor Gormley, O'Neill and Conor McAliskey who slipped it to the onrushing Plunkett Kane to thump it past Fermanagh goalkeeper Chris Snow to leave a five point margin at half-time.

While they might have been expected to push on from here, Tyrone struggled.

Despite hitting the post with a low stinging drive from O'Neill on 39 minutes, they went 26 minutes without registering a score, a fact not lost on Harte afterwards.

Fermanagh began to take little nibbles out of the lead of their neighbours but this was mostly confined to pointed frees from the boot of Daryl Keenan.

Although the Ernemen did enjoy a large share of the possession, they could not find a way through the Tyrone defence that held firm as they drove at them in waves.

There was one half-chance that went begging in that period however.

Tomas Corrigan found his fellow substitute Damien Kelly alone on the wing and when he drove it across the goalmouth, Sean Quigley's fist met it, only for the ball to clip the crossbar as it sailed over. A final flourish came in a late attack by Tyrone, which ended up with substitute Mark Donnelly following up an initial saved effort by Snow to sweep home and bring a tired contest to a welcome end.

It's January alright, and no mistaking.

TYRONE: J Devine; A McCrory, C McCarron, C Gormley; C Clarke, Joe McMahon, R McKenna; P Kane (1-0), S Cavanagh (0-4, 2f); K Gallagher (0-1), M Penrose (0-1), J Lafferty; D McCurry, S O'Neill (capt) (0-1), C McAliskey (0-1). Substitutes: P Harte (0-1, 1f) for McCurry (half-time), Justin McMahon for Gormley (53mins), Mark Donnelly (1-0) for McAliskey, Matthew Donnelly for Penrose (62mins), D McBride for Cavanagh (70mins).

FERMANAGH: C Snow; R McCluskey (capt), S Lyons, J Woods; M O'Brien, B Cox, D McCusker; J Sherry, R Jones; T McElroy, S McCabe, E Donnelly; P Ward (0-1, 1f), D Keenan (0-5, 4f), K Connor. Substitutes: S Quigley (0-1) for Connor (27mins), D Kelly for O'Brien (49mins), T Corrigan for McElroy, M McGrath for Sherry (58mins).

Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).

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