On This Day May 18 1997: Explosive Ulster SFC preliminary powderkeg ends in a drama-filled draw on the day that Cantona says au revoir to Manchester United

ACROBATICS...Tyrone’s Paul Donnelly and Down’s Greg McCartan take to the air in yesterday’s Ulster Senior football clash at Clones

AN explosive Ulster SFC preliminary powderkeg ended in a drama-filled draw, Tyrone 0-15 Down 2-9, at Clones today.

Very controversial, a full-blooded battle of bone-shaking intensity, yesterday's dramatic live TV firecracker produced enough talking points to keep the replay melting pot smoking this week after Adrian Cush rescued the champions three minutes from time.

Clones, rain, the match broadcast blow for bone-shaking blows on RTE and UTV, under 13,000 were at ringside for what proved an absolutely absorbing, hotly debated draw between Tyrone and Down.

Mick McGrath, the match referee, ran a gauntlet of abuse at the end.

McGrath was given an official escort from the pitch following a performance which sparked heavy criticism from all quarters.

McGrath booked nine players, sent Down star Peter Withnell off 11 minutes into the second-half for a harshly deemed second bookable offence – Withnell should have walked after 11 minutes of the first half not the second – made numerous other disputed decisions, and awarded a 27th minute penalty.

After a relatively low-key profile to the Championship, a game packed with incident, drama, some excellent performances, no little quality in finishing terms, and an air of tension needing a razor-edge to cut through, produced a titanic thriller propelled by controversy at nearly every twist and turn.

Tyrone: Finbar McConnell; Paul Devlin, Paul O'Neill, Chris Lawn; Paul Donnelly, Fergal Logan, Noel Donnelly (0-1); Jody Gormley, Gerard Cavlan; Adrian Cush (0-6, all from frees), Seamus McCallan, Ciaran Loughran; Ciaran McBride (0-2), Stephen Lawn (0- 2), Peter Canavan (capt., 0-3).

Subs: Brian Dooher (0-1) for Cavlan (52 mins); Fay Devlin for Chris Lawn (58 mins).

Down: Michael McVeigh; Gary Mason (1-1), Sean Ward, Liam Howlett; Daniel Flynn, Ross Carr (capt.), Cathal Murray; Conor Deegan, Gregory McCartan; John Treanor (0-5, all from frees), Greg Blaney, Peter Withnell; Mickey Linden (0-2), Ciaran McCabe, Gerard Deegan (1-1).

Subs: James McCartan for McCabe (61 mins); Aidan Farrell for Blaney (65 mins).

Referee: Mick McGrath (Donegal).

Attendance: 12,576

Cantona says au revoir to United

ERIC Cantona's decision today to walk out on football after five glorious and controversy-filled seasons at Old Trafford has stunned the United faithful.

Even former United boss Tommy Docherty described himself “surprised and disappointed” by Cantona's announcement, although he pointed out that the club would survive.

“Eric is such a great player and I will certainly miss watching him,” said Docherty. “I thought he'd see out another season with United and have one last crack at the Champions' League. But nobody is irreplaceable, not even Eric Cantona.”

“The view has to be ‘The King is dead; Long live the King'. Somebody will always come along.”

Former United star Paddy Crerand was equally surprised by the announcement and said Cantona would remain in the minds of supporters for years to come.

“Cantona is a legend in Manchester. He will go down alongside the Busby Babes, Alex Ferguson, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton. He'll not be forgotten at Old Trafford.”

The mercurial Manchester United star will never be fotgotten for his footballing skills and a bizarre and reckless moment of madness in 1995.

Sent off at Crystal Palace on January 25, he charged into the stands and aimed a Kung-Fu kick at fan Matthew Simmons.

His actions lead to him being banned from all football until September 30 and fined £10,000 by the FA.

A two-week prison sentence for the offence was varied on appeal to 120 hours of community service.

Cantona returned to action on October 1 and scored a penalty in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

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