By Francis Mooney
Tyrone will meet Derry in the Dr McKenna Cup final at the Athletic Grounds next Saturday, after both scored comfortable wins.
Holders Tyrone, going for a fifth successive title, defeated Fermanagh by 1-13 to 0-9 at Clones, while Derry were 1-17 to 1-10 winners over Cavan at the Athletic Grounds.
Fermanagh made a bright start, going three points ahead through Sean Quigley, and with skipper Eoin Donnelly in towering form at midfield, they asked all the questions of a sluggish Red Hand side.
It wasn’t until the 16th minute that the holders got their first score, a Mark Bradley free.
The sides were tied at 0-4 each at the break, but it all went wrong for Fermanagh when their best player was sent off.
Donnelly picked up a second yellow card on 42 minutes, and 14-man Fermanagh faced an uphill.
They had already fallen behind by that stage, and suffered another setback when Connor McAliskey smashed home the only goal of the game in the 51st minute.
Colm Cavanagh emerged as a major figure for the holders, with McAliskey, Bradley, Ronan O’Neill, Darren McCurry and Sean Cavanagh kicking the points that secured a comfortable result. Tyrone defender Rory Brennan received a straight red card late in the game.
Ryan Bell netted his fourth penalty of the competition to set Derry on their way to a place in the decider with a seven points win over Cavan.
His first half strike put his side 1-4 to 0-4 ahead, after Cailean O’Boyle and Enda Lynn had swapped points with Gearoid McKiernan and Jack Brady.
The Oak Leafers led by 1-10 to 1-6 at half-time, with Conor Kearns and Bell on target, before Brady cut the deficit.
But Derry were very much on top as the game progressed, Keilt, Bell, Mark Craig and Shane Heavron adding to their tally.
The Breffni men pulled back scores through Seanie Johnston and McKiernan, and Killian Clarke’s late goal was no more than a consolation.