Harte urges Tyrone to keep it up


Tyrone 1-14 Derry 2-8:MICKEY HARTE has urged his players to carry their pre-season enthusiasm into the National Football League and make a serious push for promotion to Division One.

After watching his side win the Dr McKenna Cup for the first time since 2007, Harte admitted he is happy with his side’s form as he prepares for next weekend’s NFL opener against Kildare at Croke Park. “We’ll go in with a certain amount of confidence, but at the same time we were quite wayward in our finishing, so that’s a cause for concern. We created a lot of chances, and didn’t really put them away,” said Harte.

Tyrone’s cause was considerably aided by the 18th minute dismissal of Derry midfielder James Conway.

After holding a comfortable six-point lead, Derry saw their challenge fade alarmingly, and they went seven points behind before plundering a late goal from a penalty.

Paddy Bradley drilled home a goal in the 16th minute, and landed a couple of frees and, even after Conway’s straight red card, they continued to dominate, with Conleith Gilligan and Mark Lynch pushing them 1-5 to 0-2 ahead. But Owen Mulligan led the Tyrone charge with a stoppage-time goal, and the sides went in at the break deadlocked on 1-5 each.

Mickey Murphy and Mattie Donnelly kicked five points between them as Tyrone pressed home the advantage in the second half.

They had nine players on the scoresheet to Derry’s four, including half back trio Cathal McCarron, Peter Harte and Dermot Carlin, and displayed a greater range of ideas and innovation than their opponents, albeit with the benefit of an extra man for three quarters of the game.

Teenager Ronan O’Neill had opened out a seven points advantage at 1-14 to 1-7 when Derry found space in the closing stages to pull back a Seán Leo McGoldrick point and a goal from a Cailean O’Boyle penalty.

Manager Harte later emphasised the importance of succeeding where he had failed last season in winning back Tyrone’s place in Division One of the NFL.

“If you’re in Division Two, you’re not in the top eight teams in the country. If you’re not playing the top-eight teams in the country regularly, then you’re not playing as high a level of football as you would be otherwise.

“So it’s so important to get up there, and there’s no hiding place in Division One. You have to be good enough or you’ll be relegated, and that’s how we found ourselves in Division Two.

“It’s a struggle to get back up there, but we have to pursue that challenge.”

Meanwhile, Conway’s dismissal enraged Derry manager John Brennan, who insisted the Ballinderry man had done no wrong, and he criticised referee Martin Higgins for consulting the linesman who was furthest from the incident involving Colm Cavanagh.

“Derry were controlling the game up until that particular incident. We had a comfortable lead at that particular stage,” said Brennan. “I just wonder as to how a man at 100 metres away had better vision than the other linesman, who was approximately five metres away, who said there’s nothing.”

TYRONE: J Devine; A McCrory, Justin McMahon, PJ Quinn; C McCarron (0-2), P Harte (0-1), D Carlin (0-1); M Murphy (0-2), C Cavanagh; Mattie Donnelly (0-3), P Hughes, M Penrose; O Mulligan (1-1, 0-1 free), Mark Donnelly (0-1), Stephen O’Neill (0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: Joe McMahon for Cavanagh, J Lafferty for Penrose, Sean O’Neill for Justin McMahon, S McNulty for Murphy, R O’Neill (0-1) for Stephen O’Neill.

DERRY:D Devlin, D McBride, L Morrow, R Dillon, G O’Kane, B McCallion, SL McGoldrick (0-1), J Conway, J Diver, C McKaigue, M Lynch (0-2), B McGoldrick, C O’Boyle (1-0, pen), P Bradley (1-2, 0-2 frees); C Gilligan (0-3, 0-2 frees). Subs: N Forrester for O’Kane, K O’Neill for Forrester, PJ McCluskey for Diver, M Craig for R Dillon, E Lynn for Gilligan.

Referee:M Higgins (Fermanagh).

O'BYRNE CUP: No new date set for final between Kildare and DCU

THE O’Byrne Cup final scheduled for yesterday at Newbridge will now be played at a later date after overnight rain left the pitch at St Conleth’s Park unplayable, writes Malachy Clerkin.

Kildare were due to play DCU in the decider of Leinster’s pre-season football competition but the game was called off after two pitch inspections yesterday morning.

No new date has been set for the final and with Kildare due to begin their Division Two campaign against Tyrone on Saturday, the likelihood is it will be put back until the break between rounds two and three of the league.