McKenna Cup: Armagh and Tyrone beat holders Donegal and Derry in semi-finals

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Kieran McGeeney says McKenna Cup Final against Tyrone will be good test for Armagh

Armagh beat holders Donegal 0-14 to 1-10 in the Dr McKenna Cup semi-finals as Tyrone edged out Derry 0-14 to 1-8 in the other last-four game.

The Orchard men twice trailed by three in the first half but fought back to lead 0-9 to 1-5 at half-time.

There was never more than a point in it in the second half but Rory Grugan's 68th-minute score clinched victory.

Peter Harte hit five of Tyrone's last six points after Patrick Coney's goal had put Derry two up after half-time.

The final will take place at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday 19 January.

After Grugan's opening score, two Jamie Brennan points helped Donegal move 0-4 to 0-1 up and while Armagh fought back to level, Jason McGee's 23rd-minute goal then restored the holders' three-point advantage.

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Armagh beat holders Donegal in entertaining McKenna Cup semi-final.

However, Kieran McGeeney's side showed impressive resilience to hit five out of the remaining six scores in the opening half to lead 0-9 to 1-5 at the break, with Niall Grimley hitting his third point of the half just before the break.

Both sides led on a couple of occasions in the second period but neither team could manage to forge more than a one-point advantage.

Stephen Sheridan's 59th-minute point moved Armagh ahead at 0-13 to 1-9 and while Jamie Brennan's fourth point of the day levelled proceedings, Grugan's 68th-minute score proved decisive despite the three minutes of injury-time played at Healy Park.

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Mickey Harte's Tyrone won six straight McKenna Cup competitions between 2012 and 2017 before losing to Donegal in last year's decider

Tyrone tested by gutsy Oak Leafers

Tyrone were pushed all the way by a gutsy Oak Leaf side at the Athletic Grounds, but finished strongly to set up next weekend's decider against Armagh.

Peter Harte came off the bench to steer the Red Hands for home in the second half, after Patrick Coney's brilliant goal had Derry ahead towards the end of the third quarter.

Both sides were called back on a number of occasions in the first half because of the controversial hand pass rule, but it didn't prevent two sides separated by three NFL divisions from serving up an entertaining and fully committed contest.

Christopher Bradley was a threat each time he got on the ball, combining well with Enda Lynn. It was Bradley who steered over a '45 into a strong wind, after Ben McDonnell and Ronan O'Neill had shot last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists ahead.

The Oak Leafers went back in front through Lynn, and with half an hour played, Derry led by double scores, 0-6 to 0-3.

Kyle Coney was recalled to the Tyrone squad for the Dr McKenna Cup
Kyle Coney produced a crucial second-half intervention for Tyrone

Kyle Coney tackle prevents second Derry goal

And they could have had a goal, but Kyle Coney got back to execute a vital tackle on Bradley.

Tyrone, with towering midfielder Brian Kennedy plucking balls from the sky, stepped up the tempo in the closing stages of the half, reeling off points through Ruairi Sludden and Ronan O'Neill, from frees, and a well taken Conall McCann effort to go in at the break level on 0-6 each.

Mickey Harte made a treble substitution at the break, and two of those replacements, Darragh Canavan and Peter Harte, were on target. Teenager Canavan, son of the great Peter, carried a significant threat, and a vital tackle from Ryan Dougan stopped him as he headed for goal.

Canavan slotted over a delightful point, and Kyle Coney eased Tyrone two ahead, but Derry struck for a brilliant goal, Lynn sending Patrick Coney through to smash a thunderous shot past Benny Gallen.

However, they failed to push on, and went 25 minutes without adding a further score as Harte hit five of Tyrone's last six points.

Shane McGuigan scored Derry's only point of the final quarter.

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-finals results
Donegal1-10Armagh0-14
Tyrone0-14Derry1-08

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