GAA: Tyrone rampant in second half rout over Queen’s University at Healy Park

PJ Lavery slots the ball past Queen's goalkeeper Michael Cunningham for a second Tyrone goal. INTT0314-701DCA
PJ Lavery slots the ball past Queen's goalkeeper Michael Cunningham for a second Tyrone goal. INTT0314-701DCA

For much of this McKenna Cup Group A contest there was little to separate the two sides.

Then Tyrone stepped up a gear and blew the unfortunate students away with a spell of unanswered scoring that was as ruthless as it was impressive.

The change in the Red Hands fortunes was signalled by the introduction of Matthew Donnelly, Ronan O’Neill and Aidan McCrory, as Queens struggled at times even to get their hands on the ball.

Played in horrible conditions at a damp and dreary Healy Park, the sides had been locked together at 1-8 apiece after 43 minutes of action, before Tyrone pulled away.

Mickey Harte will have been pleased with the impact made by some of his debutants with PJ Lavery in particular proving to be a thorn in the students flesh.

It was Lavery who had opened the Tyrone account in the opening couple of minutes popping up to fire over from 25 metres into a strong wind.

Queens responded almost immediately with Antrim’s Ryan Murray kicking the next two points of the game.

Tyrone’s response was almost immediate as good work from Niall McKenna out the field eventually saw full forward Danny McNulty scuff in debut goal from close range.

Tyrone appeared to take confidence from this and a third Clonoe man was on target as Connor McAliskey pointed, before wing back Ciaran McGinley extended the Red Hands lead.

It wouldn’t last too long however as Queens struck for a goal of their own Ryan Rafferty exposing the Tyrone rearguard for a fine solo goal.

The Tyrone full back line had struggled to deal with the Queens attack and a couple of moments late Rory Grugan added another bringing the sides level once again.

With Conan Grugan and Niall McKenna fighting out an intriguing midfield tussle with Martin McElhinney and Aaron Findon, no team could get on top for too long.

Lavery got his second point 20 minutes in to give his side the lead but this was soon cancelled out by Ryan Murray before Ryan Rafferty struck over a fine score to give his side the lead once more.

Tyrone responded well once more, McAliskey getting his second score this time for a free before Patrick Quinn became the third debutant to open his account with a well measured effort from a tight angle.

The sides were to go in level at the break though as influential centre half back Darren O’Hanlon pushed forward to strike over the cross bar from distance.

Tyrone began the second period much the same way as they had begun the opening half with an early score.

This time it was Connor McAliskey exploiting the space he had been afforded to sweep over from distance after good work in the build up from Ciaran McGinley.

Queens once again responded well with Grugan again pointing from play to level the scores before he kicked his third a couple of minutes later to give Queens the lead.

That however was to be the student’s last score of the afternoon as Tyrone found another gear and ran riot.

With the Red Hand’s half forward line becoming more influential, Kevin Gallagher and Peter Hughes both getting on increasing amounts of possession, Tyrone began to pull clear.

It was Daniel McNulty who got his side back on level terms with a well struck 45 and a couple of minutes later, Peter Harte, Tyrone’s most experienced player at this level, found his range to give his side the lead.

Tyrone could well have gone behind moments later as Grugan went past full back Campbell and tried to pick out Ryan Rafferty, the corner forwards shot at goal brilliantly blocked by Hugh Gallager.

Tyrone reeled of five scores over the next seven minutes as they moved clear.

Conor McAliskey got the first from a placed ball, before Peter Hughes opened his account for the afternoon with another from play.

Ronan O’Neill and Matthew Donnelly’s introduction had given Tyrone a sharper cutting edge and the pair were to be heavily involved over the concluding 20 minutes.

O’Neill was to score next before Hughes got his second, this time he fired over an arrow-like effort from 25 metres that just went over the bar.

Ciaran McGinley and McAliskey both added to their tallies for the day before the Red Hands hit the net once again.

PJ Lavery was on target this time as he drilled low past a helpless Michael Cunningham in the students goal.

Shay McGuigan hit the target shortly after his introducin with a point from play before Tyrone’s third and final goal put the icing on the cake, substitute Paddy McNeice lazering his effort to the Queen’s net.

Tyrone now must prepare for Wednesday night’s meeting with neighbours Armagh in Omagh.