Ulster SFC: Tyrone thrash Antrim 2-23 to 2-9 in quarter-final

Tiernan McCann
Tiernan McCann scored a wonderful goal at Tyrone took a 14 point lead into half-time

Tyrone made light work of an under-strength Antrim as they blazed their way into the Ulster semi-finals.

Goals by Tiernan McCann and Connor McAliskey helped the Red Hands to a 14-point win at the Athletic Grounds.

Antrim trailed by 14 at half-time and second-half goals by Patrick McCormick and Matthew Fitzpatrick did little to disguise what was a one-sided contest.

Mickey Harte's men will next face either Donegal or Fermanagh for a place in the Ulster final.

Antrim must enter into the qualifier draw as they seek their first Championship win for four years.

McShane sparkles once again

Cathal McShane's seven-point haul against Derry had marked him out as a potential Tyrone star and the corner-forward was once again the main attacking threat when the game was in the balance.

McShane's aerial strength and his footwork were once again at the heart of the Red Hands' attack and it took him just four minutes to get his opening score and strike the first note of panic in the Antrim defence.

Full-back Ricky Johnston had plenty of support in shadowing the Tyrone talisman but McShane repeatedly made space for himself before effortlessly curling a shot between the posts as he added another six points to his Championship tally.

Cathal mcShane
McShane followed up his impressive display against Derry with another strong showing in the full-forward line

Penalty appeal

Antrim opted to persist with a two-man inside forward line even as Tyrone began to flex their point-scoring muscles but Ryan Murray and Odhran Eastwood looked isolated in attack.

Tyrone pushed bodies forward in their relentless pursuit of scores but on rare occasions when the Saffrons were able to work their way into the open spaces in behind they failed to convert.

There were just six points between the sides when Patrick McBride cut through the heart of the Tyrone defence and bore down on Niall Morgan's goal before Ben McDonnell hauled the Antrim wing-back down at the expense of a black card.

The impressive Ryan Murray swung over the resulting free but any hopes that the score might inspire an Antrim fight back were quickly cancelled out by Mattie Donnelly as normal serviced resumed at the other end.

Three minutes later and the contest was effectively over as the influential Frank Burns broke the ball in midfield for Tyrone and Peter Harte popped a pass to McCann, who jinked onto his left foot before rifling his shot into the Antrim net.

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The battle for jerseys keeps everyone on their toes - Donnelly

Relentless Tyrone hunt for scores

The Tyrone forwards were able to use the final minutes of the opening half as target practice as Niall Sludden, Richie Donnelly and Niall Morgan all pointed against a beleaguered Antrim.

The Saffrons were out on the field long before the restart and briefly sparkled when McCormick ghosted in behind the Tyrone defence and calmly slipped a shot under Morgan to reduce the gap.

Mickey Harte had already decided that his side had done enough to secure the result and the introduction of a fresh and hungry McAliskey, Kyle Coney and Darren McCurry in the 41st minute was a dagger to Antrim hopes.

McCurry kicked a point off his right and McAliskey also added a score from play as Tyrone continued to hunt for scores even after McBride's pace fashioned a second Saffrons goal for Fitzpatrick.

Substitute McAliskey scored Tyrone's second goal as Mickey Harte's side displayed their considerable strength in depth

Antrim boss Harbinson did not have the luxury of a McCurry on his bench and the Saffrons visible faded during the closing stages as Tyrone clinched their second goal.

The long ball into McAliskey on the edge of the square proved effective as the Clonoe forward shrugged aside his marker and powered his shot into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

Antrim were rattled as McAliskey and Coney added further points either side of a pair of frees by Ryan Murray as the game petered out long before the crowd of 5,409 started to filter through the gates.

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

Subs: A Hasson, M McCarry (for S Beatty, 54), J Dowling, E Walsh (for O Eastwood, 45), P Finnegan, J Mallon (for J McAuley, 63), C Mallon (for E Walsh, 70), R Scott (for K Quinn, 51), C Murray, R McNulty (for J Smith, 36), M Johnston.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1); HP McGeary, R McNamee (0-1), R Brennan (0-1); T McCann (1-0), P Hampsey, M Cassidy (0-1); C Cavanagh, B McDonnell; M Donnelly (capt) (0-3), N Sludden (0-1), F Burns (0-1); C McShane (0-6), P Harte (0-1), R Donnelly (0-3).

Subs: B Gallen, M McKernan, K Coney (for M Donnelly, 41) (0-1), C Grugan (for B McDonnell (BC), 23), C McAliskey (for P Harte, 41) (1-2), C McCann, D McClure (for N Sludden, 53), A McCrory (for P Hampsey, 36), D McCurry (for C McShane, 41) (0-1), C McLaughlin, L Rafferty.


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