TYRONE have won their eighth McKenna Cup title in nine years with a 0-11 to 1-5 victory over Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds this evening.
There were nearly 4000 people in attendance, and it’s safe to say that they won’t be talking about this one decades down the line as the game never really caught fire.
Nevertheless, there were some positive signs from a Tyrone perspective – none more so than the excellent performance of Darren McCurry, who proclaimed after the match that he’s in the best shape of his life (and for the record, he was also man of the match in last year’s final).
In terms of how the game panned out, Tyrone opened the scoring when Frank Burns took advantage of an excellent cross-field ball from David Mulgrew, who was otherwise fairly quiet and was taken off after 24 minutes.
Tyrone doubled their advantage when Michael O’Neill blasted the ball over from 40 yards after a lengthy period of patient build-up play, but Monaghan started to find their feet and finally landed their first point of the game in the ninth minute from Shane Carey.
What followed was ten minutes of poor play from both sides, but particularly Tyrone who seemed to relinquish possession every time they went on the attack.
Monaghan, however, struggled to take advantage until Conor McCarthy knocked over two quick-fire scores which left it 0-3 apiece after 25 minutes.
Tyrone stepped it up a gear when Darren McCurry replaced Mulgrew, and he finished the half with three superb points to give Tyrone a 0-8 to 0-3 advantage at the break. It’s worth of note that two of his points were hit with his weaker right foot, and the likes of Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns, Ronan McNamee, Conor Quinn and Conor Meyler were also particularly influential as Tyrone ran into a five-point lead.
If the first-half was forgettable, the second-half was even worse. While Tyrone only managed three second-half points, they were much the better team as Monaghan goalkeeper Conor Forde struggled to find a man from kick-outs as Tyrone pushed up and played man-for-man.
McCurry excelled in the playmaker sweeper as Tyrone dominated the possession stakes, but lackadaisical shooting from both sides kept the scoreboard low.
A late Ronan O’Neill point, his fourth of the evening, got the Tyrone crowd cheering, and a late Monaghan consolation goal was exactly that – a consolation. The McKenna Cup resides in the land among the bushes for another year.
Pick up the Tyrone Herald on Monday for a full match report and interviews from tonight’s game