Burns set to be a key player.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

POMEROY'S Frank Burns is set to be a key player for Tyrone this season, and his power, skill and athleticism shone brightly in the opening game.


Burns turned in a man of the match performance as the Red Hands swept to a 4-20 to 2-11 Dr McKenna Cup win over Antrim at the Athletic grounds in Armagh.

He shot 1-4, all from play, to cap a fine performance and lay down a marker for 2018.

"I got a few scores but I won't get ahead of myself, it's only the first game of the McKenna Cup. I'll just try to keep it going," he said.

"I'm delighted to pick up man of the match in our first game. It's about getting a bit of ring rust off and working on the basics and simple things like that."

It was an impressive first outing for a Tyrone team made up of a mix of youth and experience.

Disciplined defending laid the foundations, and the holders attacked at every opportunity, with nine different players getting their names on the score-sheet.

There were indications that there will be a greater emphasis on attack this year, and the influence of new forwards coach Stephen O'Neill was evident as they pushed forward and provided quality ball for the front men.

Padraig McNulty scored the first half goal that gave Tyrone a 1-10 to 0-4 interval lead, and more goals followed from Burns, Connor McAliskey and Niall Sludden.

"I suppose it was a good team performance coming after Christmas and the New Year.

We gelled well together, we're just taking it a game at a time. We've got over Antrim and we'll look forward to the next one," Burns added.

With a nine points cushion at the halfway stage, it would have been easy to consolidate and defend the lead, but the Red Hands stepped up the tempo further after the restart and were still pressing at the final whistle.

"It can be easy at times when you have a bit of a lead to come out and sit back, but at half-time we said we 're not going to do that, we're going to push up and try to push on, which we did, so we're happy enough with that." "It's the first game after Christmas and in the new year, so it was a good team performance. Once Mickey gives you the jersey, you try your best to keep it.

"At the end of the day, it's game time that you want, that's where you improve on all the skills and all the basics."

Burns was one of four Pomeroy players who lined out for Tyrone in this game, making it a proud occasion for the Plunkett's club.

His brother Brendan made an impressive debut at the back, along with the McGeary siblings, Kieran and Hugh Pat.

"It was definitely a big occasion for Pomeroy. Over the years there have been Pomeroy men playing in the team, maybe one at a time, but four of us, especially two brothers, it's a proud moment for us definitely," said Burns.

But Burns accepts that much hard work will be required by all the Pomeroy contingent if they are to become regulars in 2018.

"That's always been the case. It's very hard to get into this team and if you get in, you try your best to stay there. But if you want to be up there you're going to need that competition as the year goes on as it's going to get more and more difficult."

Tyrone scorers: Frank Burns 1-4, Connor McAliskey 1-2 (0-2 frees), Padraig McNulty, Niall Sludden 1-0 each, Darren McCurry 0-5 (2 frees), Cathal McShane 0-4, Mattie Donnelly, Ronan McHugh (1 free) 0-2 each, Lee Brennan 0-1 ('45)

Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Brendan Burns, Padraig Hampsey, Michael McKernan; Tiernan McCann, Hugh Pat McGeary, Kieran McGeary; Cathal McShane, Padraig McNulty; Mattie Donnelly, Niall Sludden, Frank Burns, Darren McCurry, Connor McAliskey, Lee Brennan.

Subs: Ronan McHugh for McAliskey, Ronan McNabb for K McGeary, Ciaran McLaughlin for McCann, Declan McClure for McNulty, Ben McDonnell for Donnelly, Michael Cassidy for McKernan.


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