Carrickmore and Clonoe primed for battle
The Tyrone senior championship final next Sunday is set to be a mouth-watering clash between two clubs with a proud tradition within the O'Neill County after Carrickmore and Clonoe came through their respective semi-finals at the weekend.
A bumper crowd of 5,000-plus was at O'Neill Park in Dungannon yesterday afternoon to see defending champions Errigal Ciaran take on Clonoe.
It was tough and uncompromising and laced with quality football throughout with no fewer than 16 players getting their names on the scoresheet.
Errigal almost got off to a dream start but Sean McKenna had to be content with a point after being closed down by keeper Mickey O'Neill. Dwayne Quinn and Steafan Tierney traded points before Tyrone attacker Conor McAliskey turned sharply to level matters.
Ronan McRory put the holders back in front and, after half back Sean Hughes had levelled matters, Tyrone star Ciaran McGinley put Errigal back in front.
In the 23rd minute, Clonoe centre half forward Colm Doris had a penalty saved by John Devine but minutes later they did find the net through Paul Coney after he reacted first to a Danny McNulty free that had come back off the post. McNulty and Coney added points as wind-assisted Clonoe led 1-6 to 0-6 at the break.
It didn't look as if it was a big enough lead but in the second half Damian Cassidy's side played some unbelievable football.
Coney and Quinn had them five clear within two minutes of the restart and while Tierney replied from a free it was clear that Clonoe had lifted their performance.
McAliskey floated over a free before attacking half back PJ Lavery landed his second point. Tommy Canavan and McKenna both scored as Errigal tried to stay in touch, but Clonoe were the better side. Patrick Doris, McAliskey, Stephen McNulty and half back Sean Hughes all registered as the gap rose to nine.
In the closing stages, Colm Doris and Michael McRory were dismissed for second yellow card offences while Peter Harte got a goal, but it was only a consolation score as it finished 1-16 to 1-10.
Meanwhile, record O'Neill Cup winners Carrickmore defeated Moy at Pomeroy on Saturday afternoon on a 3-9 to 0-9 scoreline that doesn't do justice to the losers. It was 0-4 apiece in the first half with Eunan Deeney, Sean Cavanagh, Michael Donaghy and Niall Loughran on target for their respective sides before two key moments in the game arrived.
First of all, 17-year-old Moy corner forward Declan Conroy found himself in the clear but shot wide with a goal on the cards before, moments later, Tyrone attacker Martin Penrose blasted the ball into the net to give his side a 1-5 to 0-4 interval lead.
Paul McAleer increased that lead on the resumption but Moy hit back with Sean Cavanagh landing a number of quality points.
With just over 10 minutes left to play only the minimum separated the sides but then Tyrone star Mark Donnelly got in for a crucial goal for the winners. McAleer added a goal in injury time at the end of the game.