Tyrone demolition leaves Antrim in the dust

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Tyrone charged through to the Ulster SFC semi-finals with a demolition job at the Athletic Grounds.

Antrim’s Patrick Gallagher with Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone. Pic: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

They were not flattered by their 14 points winning margin, and had 14 different players on the score-sheet, the only blemish on a supremely professional performance the fact that they allowed their guard to slip as the Saffrons pulled back two second-half goals.

Antrim’s flimsy hopes of an upset were ruthlessly shattered by a Tyrone side unmoved by the suffering they inflicted on an outclassed opponent.

This was the second Division Four side the Red Hands had come up against in this year’s series, but unlike Derry, whose challenge was strong, the Saffrons never looked capable of troubling last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists.

Denied the right to stage this game on home turf due to the Casement Park fiasco, Antrim were dealing with disadvantage even before they took the field.

Tyrone attacked their opponents from all angles right from the start, feeding off possession around the middle by way of Antrim goalkeeper Padraig Nugent’s predictable long kick-outs.

Using a mix of short game and long ball, the Red Hands were ruthlessly efficient, with target man Cathal McShane once more excelling as he picked off five first half points.

But he was just one of ten Tyrone players to score in that opening half, with skipper Mattie Donnelly claiming three, and defenders Rory Brennan and Michael Cassidy also chipping in.

And it was wing back Tiernan McCann who smashed home a brilliant 28th minute goal from Peter Harte’s pass to put the game out of sight, even at that early stage.

Patrick McBride, James McAuley and Ryan Murray pulled back Antrim points and Matthew Fitzpatrick tried to test the Tyrone rearguard with his strong running, but this was men against boys, and at the break, it was all over, Tyrone ahead by 1-16 to 0-5.

Mickey Harte emptied his bench, replacing key men McShane, Harte and Mattie Donnelly as early as 40 minutes, and soon afterwards Antrim got in for a goal, finished expertly to the bottom corner of the net by corner back Patrick McCormick in the 48th minute.

Tyrone demolition leaves Antrim in the dust
Antrim’s Ricky Johnston with Cathal McShane. Pic: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

The Red Hands responded with scores from substitutes Darren McCurry and Connor McAliskey, but once again Tyrone were caught out at the back as Patrick McBride sent Matthew Fitzpatrick through for a second goal.

These lapses hurt Red Hand pride, and they grabbed a second goal through Connor McAliskey, who almost burst the net with a rocket, with ten minutes to play.

Antrim: P Nugent; P McCormack (1-0), R Johnston, P Gallagher; P McBride (0-2, 2f), D Lynch, N Delargey; C Duffin, S Beatty, J McAuley (0-1), M Fitzpatrick (1-0), K Quinn; R Murray (0-6, 5f), J Smith, O Eastwood.

Subs: R McNulty for Smith (h-t), E Walsh for Eastwood (49), R Scott for Quinn (51), M McCarry for Beatty (54), J Mallon for McAuley (62), C Mallon for Walsh (76)

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, ’45); HP McGeary, R McNamee (0-1), R Brennan (0-1); T McCann (1-0), P Hampsey, M Cassidy (0-1); C Cavanagh, B McDonnell; R Donnelly (0-3), N Sludden (0-1), F Burns (0-1); P Harte (0-1, f), C McShane (0-6, 3f), M Donnelly (0-3).

Subs: C Grugan for McDonnell (BC 23), A McCrory for Hampsey (h-t), C McAliskey (1-2, 0-1f) for Harte (41), K Coney (0-1) for M Donnelly (41), D McCurry (0-1) for McShane (41), C McCann for Sludden (54)

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).

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