Tyrone step up push for promotion

Tyrone blew neighbours Derry away at Healy Park to step up their bid for promotion.

Mickey Harte’s men were in control in every sector, crafting this 12 points win from their dominance at midfield through Mickey Murphy, who also bagged 1-2, and Aidan Cassidy, with Martin Penrose also a valuable source of possession around the central area.

Murphy punched home a first half goal and Peter Harte netted a penalty 10 minutes from the end to complete Derry’s misery.

Harte had been demanding more consistency from a team that had tended to struggle in the early stages of games prior to this Omagh rout.

“Of late we have been slack in one half or the other. We needed a bit of consistency across the two halves and we got that. But all has to be viewed in the light of the Derry injuries. They have too many of their first team players, out, but at the same time, we have to deal with what’s in front of us, and I’m happy that the boys played the way they did.”

A poor start cost Tyrone promotion last season when they lost their first two games, but this time Harte is leaving nothing to chance.

“It is hard when you lose your first two matches. You’re chasing a losing battle almost, because you cannot afford for anything to go wrong for the rest of the season So it is nice to have four points tucked away ahead of this mini-break coming up. There’s still a lot of hard games to play, but I’d rather be where we are than where we were last year anyway.”

Derry attacker Paddy Bradley conceded the Oak Leaf players just aren’t fit enough.

“There is no doubt some of our players, including myself, aren’t at the necessary fitness levels required at this stage. We have lost both of our opening games and we are now in a relegation battle and we have to knuckle down.”

Derry made the early running, with points through Mark Lynch and Charlie Kielt, but they managed just one more score in the next 35 minutes.

Tyrone started slowly, but once they got a foothold in midfield through Aidan Cassidy and Mickey Murphy, they dictated affairs. Martin Penrose, winning loose ball around the middle and turning over possession almost everywhere, was key to the home side’s dominance of possession, while centre-back Peter Harte pushed forward at every opportunity.

Owen Mulligan and Murphy hit the target to bring the sides level by the 12th minute, before Penrose gaveTyrone the lead. And in the 26th minute, a sweeping move involving Harte and Cassidy ended with Penrose crossing for Murphy to punch to the net. An O’Neill special capped an impressive first half for Mickey Harte’s side, who led 1-7 to 0-3 at the break.

Mark Donnelly and Mattie Donnelly steered over spectacular points after the restart, and Conor Clarke, Dermot Carlin and Cathal McCarron suffocated a Derry attack that managed just one point in the third quarter. And John Brennan’s men suffered a double blow in the 51st minute when Patsy Bradley picked up a second booking after conceding a penalty, which Harte drilled to the bottom corner of the net.

Tyrone allowed the tempo to slip in the closing stages, during which Derry pulled back scores through Paddy Bradley, Kielt and PJ McCloskey.

Scorers for Tyrone: M Murphy 1-2, P Harte 1-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1 ’45), Mattie Donnelly, M Penrose, O Mulligan (2f), S O’Neill (1f), Mark Donnelly 0-2 each, C McCarron, K Coney (f) 0-1 each

Scorers for Derry: Paddy Bradley 0-3 (2f), C Kielt, C O’Boyle (2f) 0-2 each, M Lynch (’45), PJ McCloskey 0-1 each.

TYRONE: J Curran, A McCrory, C Clarke, DCarlin, C McCarron, P Harte, D McCaul, M Murphy, A Cassidy, Mattie Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, R McNabb, O Mulligan, M Penrose, S O’Neill.

Subs: Joe McMahon for Cassidy, K Coney for O’Neill, S Cavanagh for Mulligan, Justin McMahon for Murphy, S McNally for McCarron.

DERRY: P Morgan, B McCallion, B Doyle, A McAlynn, C McKaigue, C Kielt, SL McGoldrick, J Diver, Patsy Bradley, E McGuckin, M Lynch, K O’Neill, C O’Boyle, Paddy Bradley, E Lynn.

Subs: M Friel for Diver, N Forrester for O’Neill, C Gilligan for McGuckin, B Gormley for Lynch, PJ McCloskey for O’Boyle.

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).

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