GAA: Slick Tyrone make it two in a row!

Darren McCurry of Tyrone celebrates with the crowd after the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Darren McCurry of Tyrone celebrates with the crowd after the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Tyrone turned on the style in the second half at St.Tiernachs Park in Clones on Sunday afternoon to comfortably defend their Ulster title against underdogs Down before a crowd of 31, 912.

The Mourne men gave as good as they got in the first half and may well have gone in at the break with their noses in front had Darragh O’Hanlon not fired a goal chance just wide of the left hand post in the closing stages.

Sean Cavanagh lifts the Anglo-Celt Cup after the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match against Tyrone at St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Co. Monaghan. Photo by Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Sean Cavanagh lifts the Anglo-Celt Cup after the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match against Tyrone at St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Co. Monaghan. Photo by Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile

Tyrone led 0-7 to 0-5 at the short whistle and when they posted seven points without reply in the third quarter the Anglo Celt Cup was on its way back to the O’Neill County.

Substitute Ronan O’Neill came off the bench to putting the icing on the cake with two well taken goals on a day when every player in a Tyrone jersey played third part in securing a 15th Ulster senior crown.

The outstanding Padraig Hampsey landed two early points and with Peter Harte and Mattie Donnelly also on target the winners led 0-4 to 0-1 by the 13th minute, Shay Millar the Down marksman.

A superb run and point from Ryan Johnston narrowed the gap but Tyrone responded with a kicked point from Niall Sludden and a fisted one from team Captain Sean Cavanagh.

Niall Donnelly, O’Hanlon and Conor Maginn helped reduce the deficit to the minimum as Down enjoyed their best spell of the contest.

In first half injury time O’Hanlon was wide from that goal chance before Donnelly had the final say for Tyrone when he fisted over.

David Mulgrew had the opening score of the second half after a dozen seconds and Tyrone never looked back.

Cavanagh from a free and Mark Bradley from play stretched Tyrone’s advantage as a struggling Down lost Kevin McKernan to a black card.

Peter Harte knocked over a free before an outstanding Declan McClure catch led to another Bradley score.

Conall McCall fired over an outstanding score and moments later his brother Tiernan followed suit with a fine effort from distance as well.

In the 55th minute it was game over when McClure and Donnelly combined for the latter to fist the ball to O’Neill he expertly finished past keeper Michael Cunningham.

Cunningham then converted a long range free with O’Hanlon and Caolan Mooney also finding the range although the keep had to be alert to tip over a Hampsey drive.

With five minutes of normal time left to play Cunningham was powerless though as Darren McCurry found fellow substitute O’Neill with a great pass and the Omagh man did the rest as he brilliantly chipped the ball into the net.

O’Hanlon and Mooney had Down points but so did Trillick duo Donnelly and Lee Brennan and while the Red Hands had Cathal McCarron sent off late on they were emphatic winners in the end.

Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Tiernan McCann, Padraig Hampsey, Peter Harte; Colm Cavanagh Conall McCann; David Mulgrew, Niall Sludden, Kieran McGeary; Mark Bradley, Sean Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly. Subs: Declan McClure for McGeary, Darren McCurry for Sean Cavanagh, Ronan O’Neill for Bradley, Conor Meyler for Mulgrew, Cathal McShane for Conall McCann, Lee Brennan for Sludden

Scorers: Ronan O’Neill 2-0, Mattie Donnelly, Padraig Hampsey 0-3 each, Sean Cavanagh, Peter Harte 0-2 (1f) each, Mark Bradley 0-2, Tiernan McCann, Conall McCann, David Mulgrew, Niall Sludden, Declan McClure 0-1 each

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)