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Tyrone Edge Sligo In Nicky Rackard Cup

Saturday 03.05.2014
Team Talk Mag

Tyrone 1-27 Sligo 2-21(AET)

Tyrone’s senior hurlers qualified for the semi-finals of the Nicky Rackard Cup following an extra time thriller at O’Neill Park Dungannon on Saturday afternoon.

A keenly contested encounter produced some impressive long range striking from two determined sides that saw them level six times inside the regulated seventy minute period and eight times in all. Tyrone may have enjoyed a league triumph over the Yeats men a few weeks ago, but it was evident from an early stage that today’s battle was going to be a much sterner examination. And so it proved.

The returning Liam Reidy and Keith Raymond bolstered the westerners challenge with Raymond guiding over a superb side line cut in the first minute to signal a quality opening half. Tyrone’s response was instant with Matthew Mulgrew firing to the back of Sean Hayes’ net only for Raymond and Brendan Kenny to restore parity by the 5th minute. A Conor Grogan peach from play edged Tyrone in front and they maintained that cushion until the interval with captain Damien Casey slotting over from play and frees to augment efforts from Tiernan Morgan and Aidan Kelly, who twice found the target from distance. Sligo were giving as good as they were getting with Raymond, Gary Cadden and Gary Waldron tagging on points but having supplied the final four points of the half  Mattie Lennon’s men met the short whistle 1-12 to 0-9 clear.

Casey kept the home score board ticking over with a couple of frees on the restart but Sligo were enjoying the upper hand as midfielder Neil Hyland drilled a close range free to net to underline the shift in momentum.

Gerard Kelly-Lynch scrambled home a second three pointer to level the issue 2-13 to 1-16 and, from then to the final whistle, it was score for score. The sides locked on five separate occasions in the closing quarter. Following the dismissal of Conor McNally Sligo looked set for victory, but it was Tyrone, who lifted the siege with referee Colum Cunning over turning a penalty decision for retaliation.

It could have been costly for the hosts but Casey did split the uprights shortly afterwards with a delightful effort from the wing to send the match into extra time.

Restored to fifteen players for extra time Tyrone’s greater fitness and stronger bench was to prove crucial as they upped the tempo to earn a warranted victory. Kevin Gilmartin and substitute Sean Og Grogan swapped points before another Casey free handed Tyrone a lead they were never to lose.

At half time in extra time it stood 1-23 to 2-19 but before the second period commenced both teams were reduced to fourteen men. Keith Raymond (red) and Matthew Mulgrew (second yellow) were dismissed having had words with the match official. Sligo were reduced to 13 men in the second period when Niall McDermott collected his second yellow for a foul on Grogan. Cadden and Hyland did register visiting points but Tyrone were not to be denied as substitute Duibhir Marshal concluded the scoring to the relief of the Tyrone managerial team.

Tyrone had some outstanding displays from Martin Grogan, Stephen Donnelly, Martin Devlin and Damien Casey with substitutes Sean Og Grogan and Duibhir Marshall making notable contributions at stages when the match was in the balance.



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