Injuries force Mickey Harte to delay panel cut

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Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is set to postpone his annual January cull due to an injury crisis ahead of the start of the Allianz League.

Kieran McGeary of Tyrone with the Dr McKenna Cup. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Kieran McGeary of Tyrone with the Dr McKenna Cup. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Harte was due to trim back his squad this week, but that may not happen as scheduled. The absence of a handful of key players didn’t halt the Red Hands’ march to an eighth Dr McKenna Cup title in nine seasons, as they saw off Monaghan in an uninspiring decider at the Athletic Grounds.

“I’m supposed to [cut the squad] but that’s not an easy job. We have a lot of injuries so I may have to defer that for a while,” Harte admitted.

Despite the dogged nature of a McKenna Cup final played in front of 3,817 spectators at the Athletic Grounds, Harte was upbeat about what he had seen: “I’ve learned that there are many ways to win a game of football and it can be very entertaining without having loads of scores,” he suggested.

“There were lots of quality football there — good defending, quality support play and people putting pressure on the shooters so that’s what maybe kept the scoring a bit more moderate than we had in recent times.

“So you can play a certain type of game where scores are just flying all over the place, or you play in other games where scores are precious and you have to be able to adapt and embrace both aspects.”

Darren McCurry came off the bench on 24 minutes and instantly ignited Tyrone’s attacking effort, hitting three points and setting up another for Kieran McGeary. Monaghan had drawn level with a couple of Conor McCarthy efforts, but it was the holders who shot the last five points of the half to take a 0-8 to 0-3 lead into the interval.

Monaghan went 26 minutes without a score before Shane Carey converted a free midway through the second half.

Ronan O’Neill’s fourth score of the evening made it a six-points game, but Monaghan did pull back a consolation goal through Barry McBennett deep into stoppage time.

Scorers for Tyrone: R O’Neill (0-4, 1f) D McCurry (0-3), K McGeary, F Burns, D Kerr, M O’Neill (all 0-1).

Scorers for Monaghan: B McBennett (1-0), C McCarthy (0-3), S Carey (0-2, 1f)

TYRONE: N Morgan; C Quinn, R McNamee, HP McGeary; M Cassidy, M O’Neill, T McCann; C Cavanagh, C Grugan; C Meyler, D Mulgrew, K McGeary; R O’Neill, F Burns, D Kerr.

Subs: D McCurry for Mulgrew (24), B McDonnell for Cavanagh (h-t), N Sludden for M O’Neill, N Kelly for McNamee (56).

MONAGHAN: C Forde; C Walshe, D Wylie, C Boyle; S Carey, R Wylie, P Keenan; N Kearns, B McBennett; MP O’Dowd, R McAllister, D Ward; C McCarthy, K McEnaney, P Donnelly.

Subs: K Duffy for Walshe (3), D Malone for Donnelly (h-t), K O’Connell for Boyle (45), R McAnespie for O’Dowd (52), K Hughes for McEnaney (66)

Referee: C Branagan (Down).