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Brave Tyrone go down fighting in Ulster final

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Tyrone went down fighting in the Ulster Hurling Shield final, and emerged with great credit after losing out to Derry at Pairc Eire Og in Carrickmore.

Derry...1-17
Tyrone...1-12

The Oak Leafers went into the decider as red hot favourites, but were given a real fright by a battling Red Hand outfit that could well have pulled off a major shock.

Derry, who operate at a higher NHL level than Tyrone, were never allowed to settle by Mattie Lennon's hungry and tenacious side, but were able to use their experience to pull away in the latter stages to secure the title and win promotion to the Ulster Senior Championship.

“We knew that we have got great hurlers and great players in the team," said Tyrone manager Mattie Lennon.

“It was just a matter of going out there and believing in it, and competing with Derry, and we did compete with them all over the field. I'm delighted with the character that we showed.

“I'm disappointed that we didn't come out with a victory in the end, because there was an opportunity there towards the end.

“There was only five points in it, a couple of pucks of the ball, and maybe we took a couple of wrong shot selections that brought it into a very close finish."

Tyrone were well placed at the interval, just three points behind after playing into the wind.

“We knew at half-time that we had done well to be in the game, and to only be only three points down after playing against the breeze. We fought really hard.

“But we knew in the second half Derry were going to come out and up their game, and they did.

“But we got the goal and got level, but we didn't really push on, and a couple of wee mistakes and Derry got back into the game, got a couple of points. So maybe it was that wee bit of experience that told out in the end."

Lennon was delighted with the tenacity of his players and the high levels of intensity they displayed from start to finish.

“That's an ingredient that you should have no matter what the game. That has to come from within, that tenacity, that want, that desire, and we had it today.

“That will bring you to a certain level, and then your hurling will kick in.

“We played some good hurling to complement that, and we had to match Derry for that intensity, and we did, but unfortunately we came out the wrong side of the result.

“We knew we had to get into the game from the start today, and it was key that we matched Derry from the first whistle, and we did.

“That meant that we made a game of it, and it showed. It was nip and tuck most of the way through.

“Some of the things that we have been working in in training have been coming out."

The Oak Leafers led by 0-4 to 0-1 after 12 minutes, after Ruairi Convery had converted a couple of frees, Justy Kelly hitting Tyrone's opening score.

Damen Casey was soon in the groove, sending over a string of frees, one of them from close to the halfway line.

Casey's fourth score narrowed the gap to two, before a Gerald Bradley score sent Derry in with a 0-9 to 0-6 interval lead.

Tyrone made a strong start to the second half, with the wind in their backs, and Casey and Conor Grogan were on target.

And when Casey sent a huge free between the posts from his own 45 metre line, the sides were level.

They almost had a goal when Tiarnan Morgan sent in a long ball, and Pierse O'Kelly's flick went just wide.

Ciaran Steele edged the Oak Leafers back in front, but Casey levelled again with another massive free from all of 100 metres.

But Derry got in for a goal in the 48th minute, when Steele sent Gerald Bradley in for a low finish past Conor McElhatton.

Convery followed up with three converted frees, and Tyrone now trailed by six. The Derry sharpshooter stretched the advantage out to seven, after Casey had drilled over another free from inside his own half.

But Tyrone got themselves right back in the game with a 65th minute goal. Ruairi McCloskey was caught in possession and dispossessed by Justy Kelly, who finished to the net.

But it was Derry who used their experience to close the game out with two more Convery frees.

They were awarded a penalty in stoppage time, but Conor McElhatton pulled off a terrrific save from Convery.

Derry scorers: Gerald Bradley 1-2, Ruairi Convery 0-12 (10 frees, 1 s/l), Paul Cleary, Mehaul McGrath, Ciaran Steele 0-1 each.

Tyrone scorers: Justy Kelly 1-1, Damien Casey 0-10 (9 frees), Conor Grogan.

Derry: Tiernan McCloskey; Ruairi McCloskey, Sean Cassidy, Ruairi McCartney; Paul Cleary, Mark McGuigan, Eanna Cassidy; Brian Og McGilligan, Conor McAllister; Gerald Bradley, Mehaul McGrath, Ruairi Convery; John O'Dwyer, Ciaran Steele, Cian Waldron.

Subs: Oisin McCloskey for O'Dwyer, Darragh Cartin for McCartney, Gavin McCormick for Steele, Tiarnan O'Kane for Waldron, Brendan Quigley for Bradley.

Tyrone: Ciaran McElhatton; Padraig McHugh, Brendan Begley, Sean Muldoon; Lorcan Devlin, Stephen Donnelly, Tiarnan Morgan; Aidy Kelly, Justy Kelly, Conor Grogan, Pierse O'Kelly, Christopher Cross; Matthew Mulgrew, Damien Casey, Bryan McGurk.

Subs: Duibhir Marshall for Mulgrew, Sean Og Grogan for O'Kelly, Ruairi Devlin for Muldoon.

Referee: James Connors (Donegal).

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