Tyrone 0-26 St Mary’s 0-10
Tyrone hit the ground running in the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup at Healy Park, where they handed out a footballing lesson to the students from St Mary’s.
Manager Mickey Harte introduced a handful of members of the 2008 All-Ireland minor winning side, and one of those, exciting prospect Kyle Coney, responded with a man of the match performance.
Coney, who last year turned his back on an AFL career with Sydney Swans, hit five brilliant points from play, and delighted the 3,000- strong crowd with his vision and range of passing.
He struck up a telepathic partnership with his Ardboe club-mate Brian McGuigan, McGuigan, famed for his creative brilliance, demonstrated that he can finish as well, hitting four points from open play.
St Mary’s, with no less than eight Tyrone men in their starting line-up, were on the back foot for virtually the entire first half, and the foraging of Kevin Mossey and Martin Murray produced little end product, although CJ McGourty did manage to shake himself free of Swift to swing over a point to add to his early converted free.
The final 15 minutes of the half saw Tyrone continue to shine up front, but now it was Stephen O’Neill and Eoin McCusker who thrust themselves into the spotlight with three points apiece. Niall McKenna also swept through the students’ defence for a well taken score, with Mark Donnelly adding his name to the scoresheet as Tyrone went in at the break with a commanding 0-14 to 0-2 advantage.
St Mary’s did enjoy a brief revival early in the second half, with substitute Brian Doyle slotting a handful of neat points, but the Red Hands soon regained control.
Substitutes Kevin Hughes and Tommy McGuigan, along with defenders Sean O’Neill and Martin Swift, added to the scoring blitz, and Stephen O’Neill came closest to finding the net when he sent a shot spinning just wide at the far post.
The students also had a goal chance, but sub Michael Pollock crashed a shot against a post.
But there was no hint of a genuine revival from St Mary’s, against a Tyrone outfit bursting with talent and with desire among its players to make it a long haul right through the summer.
The new playing rules made little impact, and prompted Tyrone manager to once again vent his displeasure at the introduction of the mark.
“I don’t see the need for the mark. It wasn’t very prevalent in today’s game anyway, and the few times there was a mark given, it wasn’t necessary, because the player wasn’t under pressure at all,” said the treble All-Ireland winning boss.
“One of the other rules that we were supposed to see was that the game was finished with the ball going dead, and in neither half did that actually take place.
“I have no difficulty with a lot of the new rule changes, but I don’t have any time for the mark. I don’t think it’s needed, and I think it would change the face of our game if it’s strictly adhered to.”
Tyrone: J Curran, R McNabb (0-1), M McKeown, M Swift (0-1), D Carlin, J McMahon, Sean O’Neill (0-1), A Cassidy, M Murphy (0-2), N McKenna (0-1), B McGuigan (0-4), K Coney (0-5), E McCusker (0-3), Stephen O’Neill (0-5, 3f), M Donnelly (0-1).
Subs: C McElholm for McKeown, K Hughes (0-1) for Cassidy, M Penrose for McKenna, T McGuigan (0-1) for Coney, E McGinley for Murphy.
St Mary’s: T Harney, M Slane, K O’Boyle, M Digney, R Dolan, B Canavan, B Og Maguire, M McKenna, G Johnston, C Campbell, K Niblock (0-2, 1f), K Mossey, CJ McGourty (0-3, 1f), J Kelly, M Murray.
Subs: B Doyle (0-4) for Johnston, M Pollock (0-1) for Campbell, P Carville for Mossey.
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)