Published Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Cavan's Cian Mackey and Tyrone's Dermot Carlin at the Athletic Grounds. (© Presseye)
The sending off of corner-back Killian Brady on 47 minutes proved to be the defining moment of a game which up to then had seen the Breffni men prove more than a match for a youthful Red Hands side.
Just two minutes previously Tyrone had taken the lead in an entertaining match played in front of 4,500 spectators.
But after Brady received his marching orders, Cavan's massed defence wilted allowing Tyrone to outscore the Breffni men by eight points to two over the final 20 minutes.
Mickey Harte made 11 changes to the side who beat Mayo in the National League 10 days previously, but forwards Kyle Coney (0-4, 3f) and Patrick McNiece (0-3) fired the Red Hands to victory while Plunkett Kane grabbed a crucial goal just before half-time to demoralise a Cavan side who had the better of the first half.
It was a cruel finish for the Breffni men who started so brightly, racing into a three-point lead after just four minutes - two points from full-forward Martin Dunne and a score from Eugene Keating putting them in charge early on.
It was 10 minutes before Tyrone got on the scoreboard, through Coney, and they soon narrowed Cavan's lead to a single point thanks to a trademark long-range free kick from goalkeeper Niall Morgan.
However Cavan's game-plan was working, with their swarm defence nullifying Red Hand attacks before launching direct, wind-assisted passes to their dangerous full-forward line.
Between the 20 and 30 minute mark the Breffni men outscored Tyrone by five points to two - Cian Mackey with the best of the bunch, beating four Tyrone defenders with a solo run from inside his own half before slotting over.
Another Morgan free pulled a point back for Tyrone, but it looked like Cavan would take a sturdy lead into the break until Kane tapped home an opportunistic goal.
Tyrone forwards McNiece and Mark Donnelly exchanged passes near the touchline, before McNiece's low shot was well saved by Cavan keeper Alan O'Mara. However the ball rebounded to Kane, whose easy finish evened up the scoreboard going into half-time.
With the wind at their backs, Tyrone would have been expected to get on top early in the second period but another excellent Mackey score nosed Cavan in front early on.
However, after Tyrone responded with points from Coney and McNiece, disaster struck for the Breffni County - Brady was sent off for hauling down PJ Lavery as he bore down on goal.
Having been shown a yellow in the first half, the black card from referee Martin McNally was enough to end Brady's final and leave Cavan down to 14 men for the final 23 minutes.
Tyrone took full advantage, scoring four unanswered points from McNiece, Coney and Donnelly before substitute David Givney clawed one back for Cavan. But there was no way back for the Breffni men, despite a late consolation point from the excellent Mackay, as Tyrone eased a seven point win and the McKenna Cup crown.
Tyrone: Kyle Coney, 0-4 (3f); Patrick McNiece, 0-3; Niall Morgan, 0-3 (3f); Niall McKenna, Sean Cavanagh, Mark Donnelly, Ciaran McGinley, 0-1.
Cavan: Martin Dunne, 0-4 (2f); Cian Mackey, Eugene Keating, 0-3; David Givney, 0-1.
© UTV News