McKenna Cup: Tyrone into decider as Donegal & Armagh reach second semi

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Red Hand beat Ernemen in low-scoring Dr McKenna Cup semi-final

Tyrone remain on course for a seventh straight Dr McKenna Cup title after beating Fermanagh 0-8 to 0-4 in a niggly semi-final at Brewster Park.

Fermanagh's Kane Connor was sent off in first-half injury-time after there had been several off-the-ball challenges as Tyrone led 0-6 to 0-3 at the break.

Donegal beat Monaghan 4-17 to 0-19 to qualify for Wednesday's semi-final with Armagh, who beat Derry 1-15 to 0-13.

In the Section B dead rubber, Down beat Ulster University 1-14 to 0-9.

Andrew Murnin's 20th-minute goal helped Armagh pip the Oak Leafers for top spot in Section B after they withstood a second-half revival from Damian McErlain's side.

Despite winning two games out of three, Derry exited as Donegal's hammering of Monaghan extended their already big scoring average superiority over the Oak Leafers with Declan Bonner's side clinching the best runners-up semi-final spot.

Playing his first game in 2018, Patrick McBrearty hit 1-8 in a man-of-the-match display at Clones with the equally impressive Odhran MacNiallais, Ryan McHugh, and Jamie Brennan also netting.

Red Hands made to battle by Ernemen

Both team produced early three-point bursts at Brewster Park but the contest then became bogged down amid driving rain and a series of off-the-ball skirmishes as tempers began to flare.

In addition to Connor's red card, Fermanagh were handed six first-half yellow cards with two Tyrone players also booked in the opening period.

Two points from fit-again Connor McAliskey helped the Red Hands take a three-point lead only for Aidan Breen, Barry Mulrone and Seamus Quigley to respond in kind by the 14th minute.

After two Darren McCurry frees and a fine Richard Donnelly pointed re-established Tyrone's three-point advantage, Connor was dismissed in first-half injury-time after another apparent off-the-ball incident.

Connor had already been yellow carded following an earlier wrestling match with McAliskey.

After Ryan Jones and McAliskey scored points following the resumption, the second half had a 26-minute scoreless period before sub Ronan O'Neill's 67th-minute point.

Andrew Murnin's goal helped Armagh lead 1-8 to 0-5 at half-time at the Athletic Grounds
Andrew Murnin's first-half goal helped Armagh see off Derry in the Section B decider.

Armagh pip Derry to semi-final spot

Armagh's first-half dominance set up their victory over Derry in the Section B decider despite the Oak Leafers' improved second-half performance.

Derry keeper Ben McKinless made a superb save to deny Aaron McKay early on as the sides were level at 0-3 to 0-3 before Murnin's 20th-minute goal started a period when Armagh outscored the visitors by 1-5 to 0-2.

Rory Grugan brought his tally up to 0-5 with two more scores after the resumption to extend Armagh's lead to 1-10 to 0-5.

Five points from Derry substitute James Kielt helped cut Armagh's lead to 1-12 to 0-13 with five minutes left the Orchard men regrouped with the final three points including scores from Niall Rowland and Michael Stevenson.

Nathan Mullins has made his debut for Donegal in this month's Dr McKenna Cup
Nathan Mullins, son of the former Dublin great Brian Mullins, was again in action for Donegal

Donegal book last-four berth

Odhran MacNiallais' eighth-minute goal set the tone for his superb display at Clones as he continued his return to action after opting out of the 2017 campaign.

Buncrana man Darach O'Connor also impressed on his return to the Donegal shirt while keeper Shaun Patton's debut included a late penalty save.

After MacNiallais' goal helped Donegal led by four, Monaghan hit seven of the next nine scores to lead by 0-9 to 1-5 as Darren Hughes, Jack McCarron and Conor McCarthy all began to make an impression.

However, Ryan McHugh's goal, superbly set up by O'Connor, helped Donegal moved five ahead by half-time.

After the restart, Monaghan had a chance to make major inroads on Donegal's lead but Jack McCarron stroked his penalty wide and the Farney men missed another spot-kick at the end as Patton saved Michael Bannigan's effort.

The game was over as a contest when MacNiallais' brilliant pass set up McBrearty to net.

Brennan lashed in Donegal's fourth goal to increase their lead to 14 points with 15 minutes left and Monaghan's late run of seven points mattered little.

Down beat students at Burren

Down led throughout at Burren although three Matthew Walsh points in the third quarter did help cut the Mourne County's lead to three before Eamonn Burns' men responded with last five scores.

The home side hit the opening round points and Connaire Harrison's 20th-minute goal then helped extend their lead to 1-5 to 0-1.

Down player Niall Madine hit three of UU's first-half points as Down led 1-7 to 0-5 at the break.

Harrison top-scored with 1-2 for Down while Shay Millar contributed 0-3.

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup results/fixtures

Sunday, 14 January

Section B
Armagh1-15Derry0-13
Down1-14UU0-09
Section C
Monaghan0-19Donegal4-17
Semi-Final
Fermanagh0-04Tyrone0-08

Wednesday, 17 January

Semi-Final - 20:00
ArmaghvDonegal (venue tbc)

Sunday, 21 January

Final
TyronevArmagh/Donegal

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