Tyrone claim fourth successive McKenna Cup
Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup Final:
Tyrone 1-13 Cavan 0-10
Tyrone produced a sensational second-half display in the Athletic Grounds to capture a second four-in-a-row of McKenna Cup titles under manager Mickey Harte.
The Red Hands trailed by four points at half-time, 0-10 to 0-6, but the introduction of three half-time substitutes and a more purposeful second-half performance helped Tyrone turn this match on its head.
The holders scored an unanswered 1-7 in the second half, Niall McKenna scoring the only goal of the game after 57 minutes, while Cavan failed to score after half time.
Darren McCurry made a big impact with four points in the second half, three from play, while new midfielder Pádraig McNulty kicked two crucial points early in the second half when the game was in the melting pot.
In front of 3,554 in the Athletic Grounds, Cavan bossed the first half and fully deserved to lead by 0-10 to 0-6 at the break.
Their direct running put the Tyrone defence on the back foot and caused them huge problems. Nine of Cavan’s first-half points came from play, with six different players on the scoreboard.
Martin Dunne was dangerous and hit 0-4 in the first half, three of his scores coming from play.
In contrast, Tyrone only managed one point from play in the first half with the bulk of their scores coming from frees.
Cavan completely took over in the second quarter and outscored the Red Hands by 0-6 to 0-2 for the remainder of the half.
Cavan should have been further ahead but Dunne fluffed a brilliant goal chance in the 26th minute.
Niall Murray’s crossfield ball was well won by Dunne, who turned Aidan McCrory and tried to chip Niall Morgan with the goal at his mercy, but his tame effort dropped wide.
Tyrone boss Mickey Harte had seen enough and made three half-time substitutions with Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly and Darren McCurry coming in to bolster their side.
It was vital for Tyrone that they got the first point of the second half – and they got it after 43 minutes from midfielder Pádraig McNulty, who took a few big hits as he rumbled through to score off his weaker left foot.
McCurry was full of confidence after hitting a great point from the wing and followed it up with even better points from distance as Tyrone pulled clear.
Niall McKenna scored the only goal of the game, latching onto Seán Cavanagh’s knocked down pass and steering the ball low into the right-hand corner of the net.
Cavan, who were without suspended midfielder Gearóid McKiernan, put a lot of energy into the first half and couldn’t keep it up once Tyrone upped the ante.
While Tyrone walked off the silverware yet again, the intensity of this contest should stand to Cavan going into a tough division two campaign.
Scorers for Tyrone: D McCurry 0-4 (0-1f), S Cavanagh 0-3 (0-3f), N McKenna 1-0, P McNulty 0-2, N Morgan 0-1 (0-1f), K Coney 0-1 (0-1f), P Kane 0-1, C McCann 0-1
Scorers for Cavan: M Dunne 0-4 (0-1f), N McDermott 0-2, M Lyng 0-1, K Clarke 0-1, M McKeever 0-1, N Murray 0-1
TYRONE: N Morgan; A McCrory, Justin McMahon, C McCarron; R McNabb, Joe McMahon, B Tierney; P McNulty, C McCann; Mark Donnelly, R O’Neill, P Kane; K Coney, S Cavanagh, N McKenna. Subs: Mattie Donnelly for Joe McMahon (HT), C Cavanagh for Kane (HT), D McCurry for Coney (HT), P Harte for Mark Donnelly (44), R McNamee for McCarron (62).
CAVAN: C Gilsenan; K Brady, R Dunne, J Hayes; N Murray, P Smith, M McKeever; D O’Reilly, K Clarke; M Reilly, M Lyng, D McVeety; R Flanagan, N McDermott, M Dunne. Subs: C Moynagh for Hayes (HT), J Brady for Lyng (44), E Hessin for Moynagh (55), T Corr for McKeever (59), P Tinnelly for O’Reilly (68).
REFEREE: Ronan Barry (Down)
Report: Orla Bannon
A selection of photos from Saturday’s final can be viewed on the Ulster GAA Facebook page.