Tyrone hurlers in contention for league final spot.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Tyrone hurlers in contention for league final spot. thumbnail Tyrone's Dermot Begley in possession.

DESPITE a poor start to the season, Tyrone's hurlers are in contention for a place in the NHL Division 3A final.


But other results must go in their favour if they are to qualify for the title decider.

And they have to defeat Longford in their concluding group game this weekend to keep their side of the barg ain.

It was all made possible by a morale-boosting win over league leaders Roscommon at Healy Park, and if the Red Hands can make it three victories in a row, then a spectacular turnaround could be completed.

Sharpshooter Damien Casey was on fire once again, hitting 13 quality points to inspire his side to a fully deserved four points success, but this was essentially a team performance.

"It was a massive team effort, especially in the second half. We came in four points up at half-time, and we were against a fairly stiff breeze in the second half, and Roscommon are no bad side," said Casey.

"So it took a lot of hard work and dogged determination in the second half, and thankfully we ground out the result."

In the second half, Tyrone had to play into the wind, but they approached a difficult task with real character and courage, with every man playing his part to the full.

"Playing against the breeze, of course it's a disadvantage, but it seemed to suck Roscommon and a lot of their players down into our half of the field, which gave us forwards a bit of space, win a couple of frees, get a couple of scores, and we nipped away at the scoreboard and got the result," said Casey.

And he was delighted with the team management which saw the game out in a tense finish.

"Roscommon are a good Division Two team, and that's where they're coming from, they went down last year.

"But it was good game management, there was rucks and frees and throw-in balls, and it takes it all, it all adds up." Now he's hoping that results elsewhere will go in favour of the Red Hands and help them to the league final.

"We knew coming into the game there was still a slight chance of getting to a league final, so we aimed to win these last three games. We've got two out of three, so we go to Longford next week and hopefully that will get us into the league final, but we'll have to wait on other results.

"If results go our way, you never know.

At the start of the year, promotion was definitely a goal of ours, and we'll do our best to beat Longford, and hope for the best after that.

"We had a bad start to the league, lost to Warwickshire in Dungannon, lost to Louth down in Darver, we could have won both games, should probably have won both games.

"But after that, we drew a line, said we had three games, and if nothing else, we need to build towards championship."

Tyrone got off to the perfect start with a Ryan McKernan goal after just eight seconds, finished low to the net from Dermot Begley's long delivery.

A brilliant Casey effort from play stretched the lead, and the Tyrone ace swapped scores with Cormac Kelly, leaving the home side ahead by 1-2 to 0-1 with eight minutes played.

Tyrone, assisted by the gusting breeze, continued to press, but failed to convert a couple of decent opportunities, before Roscommon countered for Daniel Glynn to steer two frees between the posts.

Casey sent over two long range frees to give his side a four points advantage at the end of the opening quarter, before Bryan McGurk sent Liam Armstrong in for a point.

But in the 21st minute, Tyrone conceded a goal. Glynn floated a free into the danger area, and the ball was flicked to the bet by Robbie Fallon.

However, the Red Hands responded with a volley of scores, two of them long range Casey frees, the other from McGurk, before Casey landed a massive free from all of 100 metres to send his side in at the break with a 1-10 to 1-6 lead.

And against the wind in the second half, they faced the challenge with commendable valour and confidence.

Conor McNally, Brendan Begley, Lorcan Devlin and Dermot Begley performed heroically at the back as the Connacht men pressed forward.

Gearoid Keenan fired over a couple of points for the Rossies, but Casey responded with another free and a brilliantly executed sideline cut.

Goalkeeper Conor McElhatton pulled off a brilliant save from Cillian Egan's flicked effort, pushing the ball around a post for a '65 which Glynn converted to leave just a point between the sides.

But in the closing stages, Tyrone held firm, and two more Casey frees gave them a fully merited win.

Tyrone scorers: Ryan McKernan 1-0, Damien Casey 0-13 (9 frees, 1 s/l), Bryan McGurk, Liam Armstrong, Peadar Daly 0-1 each.

Roscommon scorers: Robbie Fallon 1-0, Daniel Glynn 0-9 (7 frees, 2 '65), Gearoid Keenan 0-2, Cormac Kelly 0-1.

Tyrone: Conor McElhatton; Conor McNally, Brendan Begley, Ruairi Devlin; Lorcan Devlin, Stephen Donnelly, Padraig McHugh; Dermot Begley, Chris Cross; Ryan McKernan, Pierse O'Kelly, Peadar Daly; Bryan McGurk, Damien Casey, Liam Armstrong.

Subs: Aidy Kelly for Donnelly, Tiernan Morgan for McHugh, Josh Ferguson for Armstrong, Ciaran Lagan for O'Kelly, Sean Muldoon for Daly.

Roscommon: Joe Keane; Michael Beirne, Peter Kellehan, Pat Nolan; Shane Curley, Paul Kenny, Alan Moore; Kerrill Hardiman, Cormac Kelly; Daniel Glynn, Jason Kilkenny, Gearoid Keenan; Robbie Fallon, Eamon Flanagan, John Mur ray.

Subs: Padraig Dolan for Keane, Cillian Egan for Murray, Joe Brennan for Hardiman.

Referee: Shane Hynes (Galway).


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