Tyrone find their stride against Fermanagh after a ‘wee bit of tidy up at half-time’

Conor McKenna sent off after helping defending All-Ireland champions get on top

Fermanagh 2-10 Tyrone 2-17

Ulster and All-Ireland champions Tyrone produced a strong second-half performance as they set up an Ulster Championship quarter-final meeting with Derry after a seven-point victory over Fermanagh in Brewster Park on Saturday evening.

The home side had caused plenty of problems for the Red Hands in the first half and were maybe unfortunate to go in a point down at the interval.

But Tyrone, with half-time substitute Conor McKenna impressive, took control after the break, hitting 1-8 without reply in a dominant 16-minute spell to take the game away from Fermanagh.

Fermanagh did keep battling and hit two late goals while the contest ended on a sour note for Tyrone as they had McKenna sent off by referee Joe McQuillan following a scuffle that also saw Fermanagh's Ryan Lyons and Brandon Horan booked.

Joint Tyrone manager Fergal Logan was pleased with his side's second-half display after a difficult first period.

“It took a wee bit of tidy up at half-time and a bit of focus. But all things considered, they certainly put in a big shift the first 20 minutes of the second half.

“The first half there was energy amiss. It was very, very difficult and it took a wake-up call at half-time to regroup and get at it in the second half.”

On the McKenna red card, he added: “Joe McQuillan had a very difficult job out there, and did very well, but ultimately there are some times on a football field when a player isn’t contributing to a melee, and he’s simply looking to the safety of his own team-mate, or to the safety of others.

“And on this occasion we firmly believe that Conor was looking to the safety of one of his team-mates, and that’s simply why he moved towards the matters.

“I’m going to leave it for everybody else to watch the video and work it out for themselves, but at some stage there must be justification on a football field to begin to assist and see to the safety of others.”

Tyrone had a black card to deal with in the opening minute when Michael O’Neill was sent to the sin-bin but the away side landed the opening score through Darragh Canavan.

Fermanagh more than held their own in the first half and by the 23rd minute they had opened up a 0-5 to 0-2 lead with Seán Quigley and Ryan Lyons knocking over two points apiece while Conall Jones blasted over when through on goal.

It was tit-for-tat after this with Darren McCurry slotting over three points for Tyrone, including a free and a mark, while James McMahon and Quigley tagged on scores for Kieran Donnelly’s Erne outfit to make it 0-7 to 0-5.

The key score of the half, however, followed as Tyrone bagged the first goal of the game, Conor Meyler raiding forward and getting through on goal before tucking the ball beyond Fermanagh goalkeeper Seán McNally to put Tyrone ahead.

Lyons levelled things up with his third point but a Cathal McShane point late in the half left Tyrone a point to the good at the interval, 1-7 to 0-10.

Fermanagh tied up the contest on the resumption as Darragh McGurn rifled over following a fine catch but Tyrone took control after this as they hit a string of scores to pull away.

Kieran McGeary, McCurry, McShane, Conn Kilpatrick and Brian Kennedy all rattled over points to push the Red Hands seven clear before Liam Rafferty palmed home Tyrone's second goal after McKenna's effort came back off the base of the post.

Fermanagh registered their first score in 23 minutes when Garvan Jones clipped over a free but with substitutes McKenna and Conroy on target for Tyrone they stretched their advantage out to 12, 2-16 to 0-10, by the 66th minute.

The home side though refused to let their heads drop and Josh Largo-Elis raced forward to arrow a shot to the net before Quigley’s pinpoint pass found Conall Jones and he fired home to cut the gap back to seven.

The late red for McKenna marred Tyrone’s win but it is one that they seem likely to appeal.

For Fermanagh manager Donnelly, there was a lot to take out of the game.

“A lot of passages of play were good, we looked very cohesive and slick at times. Then we just started to force things a wee bit when it was going against us.

“The last 10 or 15 minutes I’ve nothing but credit for our players. They’re young and they responded and that’s what we asked of them. They showed resilience and scored a couple of great goals to finish. From that side, I’m proud of them,” he said.

FERMANAGH: S McNally; L Flanagan, J Cassidy, A Breen; J McMahon (0-1), R O'Callaghan, D McCusker; R Jones, B Horan; R Lyons (0-3, two frees), C Jones (1-1), J Largo-Elis (1-0); C Corrigan, D McGurn (0-1), S Quigley (0-3, one free, one 45).

Subs: O Kelm for O'Callaghan (56 mins), G Jones (0-1, free) for Corrigan, J McDade for Breen (both 58).

TYRONE: N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; R Brennan, F Burns, C Meyler (1-0); C Kilpatrick (0-1), B Kennedy (0-1, mark); K McGeary (0-1), M O'Neill, N Sludden (0-1); D McCurry (0-6, two frees, two marks), C McShane (0-3, one free), D Canavan (0-1).

Subs: C McKenna (0-2) for O'Neill (h/t), L Rafferty (1-0) for McGeary (50 mins), M Conroy (0-1) for McCurry (58), B McDonnell for Kennedy (62), C Shields for Canavan (69).

Referee: Joe McQuillan.