Tyrone opened their account in the all Ireland championship with a six point win over Wicklow at Lannleire. The scoreline perhaps does not fairly reflect the Wicklow effort as they fought tigerishly until the end and at times made life more than difficult for the Red Hands.
In the end, game management and three excellent goals secured the win for a well drilled red hand side, that fact emphasised during the second half after Aoibhinn Mc Hugh had been yellow carded and Tyrone held the ball for seven of the ten minutes.
Joanne Barrett and Meabh Corrigan had fine games at the back for the Ulster side, goalkeeper Sinead Mc Vey was sharp and through the middle Emma Jane Gervin and Mc Hugh sent in some great ball with Grainne Rafferty always an option as Caitlin Campbell and Maria Canavan looked dangerous in possession,
Injuries have been a real problem for team manager Sean O’Kane. The Glenelly man has been forced to reshuffle things. Four minors were added to the squad with skipper Emma Conroy making her senior debut from the bench, not looking out of place.
Emma Hegarty’s stunning goal on the break had Tyrone three points ahead on the whistle. The Donaghmore player’s goal coming after a great run down the right and intelligent play from her at the end. Her goal was one of three great first half goals. Sarah Jane Winders on target for Wicklow, a great long ball from Mc Vey finding Mc Hugh who rattled the net too.
Maria Canavan had tagged on an early point from the right but the response from Wicklow was swift as Marie Kealy pointed. Winders then combined sweetly with Aimee Maher to score a fine goal. Credit to the red hands they did not panic and settled to the challenge. Canavan and Aoife Horisk landed points with Kealy keeping the Garden County ahead with a free as they also carved out some chances in front of goal. Sinead Mc Vey in goals however was equal to the danger.
Wicklow were caught napping as Mc Vey sent Mc Hugh through for her goal on eleven minutes, a fine bustling run from the Tyrone Captain. Tyrone pressed ahead after that as Wicklow missed several scorable frees. Caitlin Campbell, Aoife Mc Gahan, Emma Jane Gervin and Canavan all on target as Tyrone moved five clear.
The Wicklow side came back strong in the final ten minutes of the half with four points on the trot from Kealy to leave a point between them and they were unlucky not to bag a goal as a fine effort from Ruby Keogh was blocked out by Jo Barrett.
The cracking goal from Hegarty pushed Tyrone four clear again but Kealy responded with a late point to leave it a three point gap at the break. That lead should have been more within thirty seconds of the restart as Hegarty sent Campbell in on goal only for the ball to go narrowly wide.
Scores in the second half were at a premium as Tyrone fluffed their lines hitting five wides to Wicklow’s two in the third quarter. Canavan’s tidy point in the stroke of 45 minutes had Tyrone four ahead although Mc Hugh was carded as Kealy closed the gap to three again yet they were not allowed to get a grip on proceedings as Niamh Hughes drove at the Leinster side while the defence snapped up everything that came their way with debutant Emma Conroy coming into the fray for ten minutes.
Kealy carved out an opening though and closed the gap to a manageable two points with ten minutes left. Just when it looked like Tyrone were going to be tested again excellent work from Sasha Byrne saw her point from distance before Niamh Hughes created an opening for Campbell who drove in a third Tyrone goal. Credit to Wicklow Sarah Evans lashed over a Wicklow point with four minutes to go. On Mc Hugh’s return she almost forced a fourth goal only to be denied by Gorman in the Wicklow goals.
As the clock ticked down Tyrone made late changes but saw this one out with Canavan, who finished with five points adding the gloss with a late point at the close of play. Double figures on the wide count for Tyrone but lots and lots of positives and no hangover from the Ulster loss that they can now certainly put to bed.
Tyrone scorers: Maria Canavan 0-5, Caitlin Campbell 1-1,Aoibhinn Mc Hugh 1-0, Emma Hegarty 1-0, Aoife Horisk, Aoife Mc Gahan, Sasha Byrne and Emma Jane Gervin 0-1 each
Wicklow Scorers: Marie Kealy 0-8, Sara Jane Winders 1-0 Sarah Evans 1-0
Tyrone: Sinead Mc Vey, Meabh Corrigan, Caoimhe Magee, Eimear Quinn, Jayne Lyons, Caitlin Campbell, Emma Hegarty, Emma Jane Gervin, Aoibhinn Mc Hugh, Aoife Horisk, Grainne Rafferty, Sasha Byrne, Maria Canavan, Joanne Barrett, Aoife Mc Gahan. Subs: Niamh Hughes For Heagrty, Emma Conroy For Mc Gahan, Emma Loane For Rafferty, Niamh Mc Elduff For Lyons.