Tyrone defeat Down in Dr McKenna Cup

Tyrone did enough during an energetic first half display at Healy Park tonight to defeat Down and get their Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup bid back on track.

Tyrone did enough during an energetic first half display at Healy Park tonight to defeat Down and get their Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup bid back on track.

Mickey Harte's defending champions held firm for a 3-5 to 1-7 win despite only scoring twice in the second half.

The victory leaves the Red Hands chasing a win on Sunday over Donegal, the team they beat in last year's final, to stand a chance of making the 2008 semi-finals.

After a spritely opening half, Down were left trailing by 2-4 to 1-1 having waited 21 minutes before opening their account via a Daniel Hughes point.

Tyrone notched four points in the opening 14 minutes, with two of them coming from Aidan McCarron. The strong-running Paul Rouse was heavily involved as the hosts looked to banish memories of last weekend's defeat to UUJ.

Down were suddenly back on level terms in the 22nd-minute when Conor Gribben goaled at the second attempt - he flicked the ball to the net after Tyrone goalkeeper PJ Quinn had saved his initial shot.

But the response from Tyrone was immediate. Tommy McGuigan and Rouse carved open the Down defence, allowing Aidan McCarron to smash home a fine 23rd-minute goal.

A barren spell followed before McGuigan swung a lovely goal finish into the bottom corner of the Down net for a 2-4 to 1-1 scoreline.

Helped by the return of Ryan Mellon and Philip Jordan, Tyrone looked a much improved outfit and full value for their six-point lead at the break.

Down upped the tempo on the restart and well-taken points from Dan Gordon and goalscorer Gribben got them back in touch.

Cathal McCarron then angled over a free-kick for his second point of the night for Tyrone, before the Red Hands' third goal arrived on 53 minutes. Enda McGinley latched on the rebound of an Aidan McCarron shot to bulge the net.

Two minutes later, John Fegan cut the gap for Down to 3-5 to 1-4, but despite further scores from Ronan Sexton (0-2) and Packie Downey, Harte's charges took the spoils.

Meanwhile, at Kinspan Breffni Park, Peter McDonnell's Armagh side succumbed to their second successive McKenna Cup loss as they went down by 1-11 to 0-10 to Fermanagh.

Liam McBarron's 16th-minute goal proved crucial for a fired-up Fermanagh outfit. Patrick Cadden, a substitute in the Ernesiders' win over St. Mary's last Sunday, top-scored tonight with 0-5.

Armagh, who were 1-7 to 0-4 behind at half-time, had substitute Paddy McKeever to thank for three of their scores.

Table-toppers Derry are ahead of Fermanagh on points in Group A following their 1-15 to 2-8 dismissal of St. Mary's at Celtic Park.

2007 All-Star Paddy Bradley led the scoring for Derry with 1-5, while substitutes John Cunningham and Paul McAleer both found the net for the students.

Antrim's opening match of 2008 saw them beat Cavan by 0-10 to 0-9 at Casement Park. Jody Gormley's side, bolstered by a string of young players, had a match winner in Michael McCann who accounted for five of their points.

Tonight's Results:

Group A -

Fermanagh 1-11 Armagh 0-10, Kingspan Breffni Park

Derry 1-15 St. Mary's 2-8, Celtic Park

Group B -

Tyrone 3-5 Down 1-7, Healy Park

Group C -

Antrim 0-10 Cavan 0-9, Casement Park

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