/ GAA

Tyrone 1-18 Antrim 0-15

Updated: Sunday, 19 Jul 2009 21:06

Antrim's Tomas McCann & Tyrone's Kevin Hughes go head to head
Antrim's Tomas McCann & Tyrone's Kevin Hughes go head to head

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Tyrone brought Antrim’s Ulster SFC fairytale to an end with a six points win in the provincial final in front of a crowd of 32,632 at Clones.

The All-Ireland champions won comfortably without ever reaching the sort of form which saw them claim a spectacular Sam Maguire Cup triumph last September.

Stephen O’Neill failed to score, but Sean Cavanagh’s move back to his favoured midfield role saw him sparkle, and he hit a 1-4 tally from play.

All but one of Tyrone’s scores came from play, and they will move into the All-Ireland quarter-finals with some purpose and momentum in their favour, although they know that many problem areas will have to be addressed.

Antrim skipper Paddy Cunningham finished with an 11 points haul, but his superb finishing wasn’t enough to inspire his county to a first Ulster title since 1951.

Tyrone slipped smoothly into overdrive after Cunningham had edged Antrim ahead early on.

With Ryan McMenamin and Joe McMahon taking ownership of the left flank, they mounted a series of attacks, the most lethal of which saw O’Neill send Cavanagh in to skip past two defenders before planting the ball in Peter Graham’s net.

McMemanin, Tommy McGuigan and McMahon (twice) banged over points, and the Saffrons were looking at a 1-4 to 0-1 deficit after just 11 minutes.

Cunningham interrupted the flow with his second free, but that merely promoted another volley of Red Hand scores.

Cavanagh thundered through for a trademark point, and there were further contributions from Owen Mulligan and Kevin Hughes as the scoreboard ticked on, now reading 1-8 to 0-2, before Antrim got their first score from play in the 30th minute through midfielder Aodhan Gallagher.

But the Saffrons hit the lat three points of the half, two more from skipper Cunningham cutting the deficit to a manageable six, with Tyrone ahead by 1-8 to 0-5 at the break.

The Red Hands stepped up the tempo on the restart, stretching the advantage through Mulligan, Cavanagh and McGuigan.

Antrim did respond through Cunningham and Michael McCann. Cunningham could have had a goal when he got on the end of a fluid move involving Justin Crozier, Terry O’Neill, Kevin Niblock and James Loughrey, and while he settled for a point, the score acted as a spur to Liam Bradley’s men.

And when he landed his side’s fourth point on the spin, the deficit was down to five.

But Tyrone sensed the danger, and responded with scores from Cavanagh and Hughes, and manager Mickey Harte felt sufficiently comfortable to call skipper Brian Dooher ashore with 16 minutes still to play.

Tyrone: J Devine, PJ Quinn, Justin McMahon, R McMenamin (0-1), D Harte (0-1), C Gormley, P Jordan (0-1), K Hughes (0-2), S Cavanagh (1-4), B Dooher, T McGuigan (0-3, 1f), Joe McMahon (0-2), M Penrose, S O'Neill, O Mulligan (0-3).

E McGinley for McGuigan (50), C Cavanagh for Dooher (54), C Gourley for McMenamin (66), B McGuigan (0-1) for Penrose (69), C McCullagh for O’Neill (69)

Antrim: P Graham, C Brady, A McClean, K O'Boyle, T Scullion, J Crozier, J Loughrey, M McCann (0-2), A Gallagher (0-1), T O'Neill, K Brady, N McKeever, P Cunningham (0-11, 7f), S Burke, T McCann

Subs: K Niblock for K Brady (25), C Murray for Burke (43), C Close (0-1) for McKeever (57), D O’Hagan for O’Neill (63), S McGreevy for Graham (68)

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).