Tyrone through after home win, as Derry sneak best runners-up spot!!!
We know how the last four of the 2019 Dr McKenna Cup will shape up, after an interesting final night of group games across the province.
In Ballybofey, Donegal and Cavan met in Section A, both sides coming into their final games with 100% records having each disposed of Down and Queen’s with relative ease.
It was the home side who would prevail, thanks in large part to the scoring exploits of Michael Langan at full forward. The Naomh Mícheál clubman split the posts on nine occasions as Declan Bonner’s men secured top spot with a 1-23 to 1-15 victory.
They will meet Armagh in the last four, after the Orchard county lads raised a spirited fightback to overcome neighbours Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds.
Having trailed by five at one stage during the first half after Jack McCarron converted a penalty for the Farney side, Kieran McGeeney’s men were able to reduce the deficit to three by the half-time whistle.
Four unanswered points, split between Aidan Forker and Niall Grimley, moved them into the lead at the start of the second half, a lead that would swing back and forth before the end of the game. But the crucial final score went to Stefan ‘Soupy’ Campbell. The Clan Na Gael man managed to swing one over with twelve minutes remaining, with neither side able to register again in a nervy final quarter. Armagh eventually winning out on a scoreline of 0-13 to 1-09.
In Section C, Tyrone only needed to avoid defeat at home to Fermanagh to ensure they advanced to the knockout stages. For much of the first half, it seemed that both sides were more intent on avoiding the goalposts rather than defeat. a two points a piece scoreline at half-time, had this reporter glad he never made the long trip to Omagh. In the second half however, Tyrone moved into a higher gear, with Peter Harte and Kyle Coney instrumental in a ten points to four victory.
The real drama came in settling the best runner-up berth. Cavan held pole position heading into their clash against Donegal in the North-West, knowing that even should they lose, as long as they kept it relatively tight, the likelihood would be they would progress.
That didn’t happen. An eight point defeat put them in peril.
Monaghan’s second half collapse to Armagh left them marooned on three points from their three games, but it was Derry, who would overtake both, with a handsome victory over Jordanstown at Owenbeg.
The students didn’t even find the scoreboard until four minutes into the second half, as Derry, and in particular, Emmett Bradley, in contrast, looked quite sharp in front of the sticks.
The Glen man notched 1-05 from centre-half forward in a 1-20 to 0-07 slaughtering.
The Oak Leaf will meet Tyrone in the semi finals, having gone down by nine points to Mickey Harte’s men in the opening round-robin game, pre-Christmas.
In tonight’s other matches, there was further pain for the student sides, with Antrim six points too good for St. Mary’s at Woodlands, and Down hammering Queen’s 4-18 to 1-05, to give Paddy Tally his first win in charge of the Mourne outfit.