Tyrone 1-13 Cavan 0-10
Tyrone turned on the power in the second half to shatter Breffni dreams and win a fourth successive Dr McKenna Cup title.
Trailing by four points at the break, and deservedly so, having been out-played by a fast-moving Cavan side, the Red Hands turned things around in dramatic and emphatic fashion.
They held their opponents scoreless in the second half as they coasted to a six points success, with a Niall McKenna goal and four points from substitute Darren McCurry.
With Damien O’Reilly and Killian Clarke in control at midfield, the Breffni men quickly established control in the key areas, and tested the Red Hand reagguard with swift raids and willing support play.
Ronan Flanagan and Niall Murray were valuable sources of possession from broken play as Terry Hyland’s men made light of the perceived gulf in class.
They led by 0-4 to 0-2 after eight minutes, with Martin Dunne on target twice, and Niall McDermott and Mark McKeever also splitting the posts.
Tyrone were keeping in touch from placed balls, Sean Cavanagh knocking over a couple, and goalkeeper Niall Morgan converting a free, into the wind, from 47 metres.
Tyrone could have had a goal when Niall McKenna crossed for Plunkett Kane, but his punched effort cleared the crossbar.
Cavan also crafted a goal chance, but Ronan McNabb’s vital intercept thwarted Flanagan as he attempted to release Niall McDermott.
And at the other end, Sean Cavanagh’s disguised pass to Mark Donnelly was equally well cut out by Paul Smith.
That’s not to say that defences were on top. Indeed, Tyrone’s rearguard looked loose and leaky as their opponents cut them open with ease.
Four points on the spin, including excellent efforts from McDermott and Clarke, were followed by Dunne’s fourth as they went four points clear, 0-8 to 0-4, by the 24th minute.
Dunne came close to netting with a cheeky lob that dropped just wide, and Cavan’s fast-moving raids were creating havoc at the back for the holders.
They led by 0-10 to 0-6 at the break, but Mickey Harte sent for the cavalry at half-time, and the three subs he threw in – Mattie Donnelly, Colm Cavanagh and Darren McCurry – had a massive bearing on the contest.
Donnelly shored up the defence, Cavanagh steadied the ship at midfield, and McCurry steered over four quality points as the Red Hands pummelled the Breffni men.
Rookie midfielder Padraig McNulty was another key figure, powering through for a couple of points and causing havoc with his strong running.
McCurry had just brought the sides level when Niall McKenna struck for the only goal of the game in the 56th minute, steering the ball to the bottom corner of the net after the Cavan defence had failed to clear a dropping delivery.
Now Cavan could make little or no headway in their efforts to break down a much more disciplined defence, and it was a canter to the finish as Tyrone lifted a 13th McKenna Cup title.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, f), A McCrory, Justin McMahon, C McCarron, R McNabb, Joe McMahon, B Tierney, P McNulty (0-2), C McCann (0-1), M Donnelly, R O’Neill, P Kane (0-1), K Coney (0-1, f), S Cavanagh (0-3, 3f), N McKenna (1-0).
Subs: Mattie Donnelly for Joe McMahon (h-t), D McCurry (0-4, 2f) for Coney (h-t), C Cavanagh for Kane (h-t), P Harte for Mark Donnelly (48), R McNamee for McCarron (61), S McGuigan for Harte (67)
Cavan: C Gilsenan, K Brady, R Dunne, J Hayes, N Murray (0-1), P Smith, M McKeever (0-1), D O’Reilly, K Clarke (0-1), M Reilly, M Lyng (0-1), D McVeety, R Flanagan, N McDermott (0-2), M Dunne (0-4, 1f).
Subs: C Moynagh for Hayes (h-t), J Brady for Lyng (48), E Hessin for Moynagh (54), T Corr for McKeever (58), P Tinnilly for O’Reilly (61)
Referee: R Barry (Down).