All-Ireland champions Tyrone earned their first win of 2009 – but only just – as they defeated St Mary’s in Section B of the Gaelic Life McKenna Cup.
Mickey Harte’s men persevered by just a point, the score 3-9 to 2-11 at full-time, though they needed to up their game considerably after the break to seal that win.
CJ McGourty goaled for St Mary’s after just four minutes from close-range and the Red Hand found themselves under siege as McGourty and Antrim team-mate Kevin Niblock then hit two points each in the space of four minutes to help their side to an interval advantage of 1-7 to 0-4.
Owen Mulligan, Jason McAnulla and Conor O’Donnell all raised green flags after the break after Harte had had his say and although McGourty got a second goal late on there was to be no upset in Omagh.
Elsewhere, Monaghan earned their first win this year as they beat holders Down 1-12 to 1-9, also in Section B.
The Farney men led 1-7 to 0-3 at the break in Inniskeen, with an early penalty from Thomas Freeman putting the Mourne men on the back foot.
Down, who had beaten Tyrone and St Mary’s already in the competition, failed to do enough to hit back with bite after the break, a stoppage-time goal from Conor Garvey putting some respect to the scoreline.
Fermanagh earned a narrow win over UUJ in Section A as Malachy O’Rourke’s side won 1-11 to 1-9.
At Brewster Park, the home side earned their first win of the competition after overcoming some early adversity as UUJ moved into a 1-5 to 0-2 lead, helped by a goal from Ciaran Donnelly.
Enda Ferris fisted a goal before half-time to bring the Erne men closer to their opponents and Fermanagh then had the better of the closing stages as Michael Jones and Paul Ward hit the two crucial late points that accounted for the victory.
In Section C Queen’s crushed Antrim 3-17 to 1-4.
Antrim man Justin Crozier did much of the damage as he bagged two goals in the first half at Casement Park. An experimental Saffrons side struggled to cope against the Belfast College as Crozier’s first half tally of 2-1 left them well adrift.
Shaun O’Neill from Tyrone was another to heap misery on the county side as he hit 1-6 to keep Queen’s in with a shout of making the semi-finals. Dara Edwards’ goal for Antrim was just about all they had to shout about.