Pride was restored for Tyrone hurlers

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Pride was restored for Tyrone hurlers thumbnailConor Grogan scored two goals against Donegal in the Nicky Rackard Cup quarter-final at Carrickmore.

TYRONE turned the tables on Donegal  in spectacular fashion to book their place in the Nicky Rackard Cup semi-finals.

The Red Hands bounced back to score a resounding victory, just a few weeks after suffering a 23 points reversal in the NHL Division 3A final.

Pride was restored and confidence soared on a triumphant afternoon at Paric Colmcille in Carrickmore.

Tyrone led from start to finish, and the tenacity and intensity they brought to the contest made it impossible for their opponents to compete.

Conor Grogan bagged two first half goals to help them to a 17 points interval lead, and there were further three-pointers from Sean Og Grogan and Damien Casey as they ran out comfortable 15 point winners.

“The good start gave us a good boost even though everybody knew at half-time that there was still a lot of work to be done," said Tyrone captain Brendan Begley.

“It definitely wasn't easy because Donegal always threatened to come back at us.

“The wind was a huge factor that was probably worth ten points to both teams, as was seen in the second half for them. There was a big score racked up in the first half and it was a case of keeping things tight in the defence after half-time.

“All the goals came at important times. One of the things that was stressed at half-time was the need to take every chance to make sure we got over the line and the two goals were really important because of that."

Begley believes the Red Hands are capable of winning the competition for a second time.

“Our aim would definitely be to go on and win the Nicky Rackard. We're probably stronger than a couple of years ago and Mattie (Lennon) has all the top hurlers in the county playing. We're fearing no-one and pushed Armagh and Derry close the last few years, so there's nobody that far away.

“Games between ourselves and Donegal are always close, there's never too much between us and the two wins each this year prove that. We're into the semi-final but the big thing is to push one and the fact that we've beaten one of the favourites means nothing.

“The important thing is to concentrate on getting to the final. All the teams that are going to be in the last four are good teams, we know them well, but at the same time we also know that we're capable of reaching the final.

“It's going to be tough no matter how comes up against us. But to get to Croke Park would be massive, especially for me because I wasn't there the last time in 2014. This is a good Tyrone side and there was definitely some hurt after losing so heavily to Donegal in the league final."

Tyrone now have a three-week break which will assist in therecover of injured players.

“We have got a good momentum, but there's a few injuries and the few weeks off until the semi-final won't do us any harm in terms of refreshing us again."

Bryan McGurk, Damien Casey and Tiarnan Morgan were all on target early on as the home side settled with the wind in their backs.

Donegal didn't open their account until the ninth minute, when Lee Henderson converted a '65, but

Tyrone were soon back in the driving seat, with McGurk, Casey and Justin Kelly all hitting the target.

And in the 15th minute, Conor Grogan captailised on a defensive error to fire in his first goal.

Davin Flynn slotted over a couple of scores at the other end, but Tyrone soon regained supremacy, and Casey sent over a string of scores from frees and play.

Grogan grabbed a second goal in the 35th minute, and two more Casey points sent Tyrone in with a 2-15 to 0-4 lead at the break.

Lee Henderson, Padhraic Doherty and Joe Boyle all registered Donegal points, but Casey continued to hit the target, and in the 43rd minute, he galloped in for a solo goal.

Tyrone followed up with points from McGurk, Casey and centre back Stephen Donnelly, before Donegal got some momentum, going with five points on the spin, three of them from former Tyrone attacker Gerry Gilmore.

Tyrone came strong again, and Sean Og Grogan finished from close range for a fourth goal.

Tyrone scorers: Damien Casey 1-10 (0-6 frees)  Conor Grogan 2-1, Sean Og Grogan 1-1, Bryan McGurk 0-4, Tiarnan Morgan (s/l), Justy Kelly, Stephen Donnelly 0-1 each.

Donegal scorers: Lee Henderson 0-6 (5 frees, 1 '65),  Gerry Gilmore, Davin Flynn 0-3 each, Joe Boyle 0-2, Padhraic Doherty, Sean McVeigh 0-1 each

Tyrone: Conor McElhatton; Padraig McHugh, Brendan Begley, Sean Muldoon; Lorcan Devlin, Stephen Donnelly, Tiarnan Morgan; Ruairi Devlin, Dermot Begley; Conor Grogan, Sean Og Grogan, Justy Kelly; Peadar Daly, Damien Casey, Bryan McGurk.

Subs: Pierse O'Kelly for S Grogan, Duibhir Marshall for McGurk, Dean Rafferty for Morgan.

Donegal: Paul Burns; Dara Grant, Jamesie Donnelly, Padhraic Doherty; Joe Boyle, Jack O'Loughlin, Christopher McDermott; Danny Cullen, Lee Henderson; Bernard Lafferty, Ronan McDermott, Gerry Gilmore, Declan Coulter, Stephen Gillespie, Davin Flynn.

Subs: Colm Melaugh for Cullen, Sean McVeigh for Gillespie.

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).


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