Tyrone fend off late Monaghan rally to reach Ulster U20 football decider

Goals at the start of each half were the platform for this victory

Ronan Cassidy and Aaron Carey
Ronan Cassidy of Tyrone in action against Aaron Carey of Monaghan during last night’s game in Omagh (Oliver McVeigh)

EirGrid Ulster U20 Football Championship semi-final

Tyrone 2-9 Monaghan 0-14

TYRONE squeezed into the Ulster U20 Football Championship final with a nervy one-point win over a stubborn Monaghan side at O’Neills Healy Park.

Goals at the start of each half proved crucial for the Red Hands as they held off the Farneymen and sharpshooter Stephen Mooney, whose 10-point haul was not enough to rescue his side.

The home side had to work hard to break down a packed defence, with Monaghan adopting a counter-attacking strategy that came so close to paying dividends.

Monaghan boss Paul Curran made nine changes from the side that lost by 27 points when the sides met in the round-robin stage a couple of weeks ago, and they suffered an early blow when Cormac Potter fired home an early goal.

He finished low to the net, arriving at pace to collect from Michael Rafferty, whose pressing from deep was a key weapon in the home side’s approach.

Monaghan, with Caolan Foy setting up as sweeper, got their defensive issues sorted out, and responded with two Mooney scores.

Conor McAneney’s uncontested kick-outs were the platform for Tyrone to build from deep, and they restored the three-point advantage through Ruairi McCullagh and Ronan Cassidy.

But Monaghan’s patient approach was increasingly effective, and in Bobby McCaul they had a supreme ball-winner, while Mooney’s accuracy from placed balls kept them in touch, with Kian Duffy and Oisin McGorman also on target as they went level.

Eoin McElholm shot the home side into a narrow 1-5 to 0-7 interval lead, and they struck for a second goal five minutes after the restart, midfielder Ronan Fox blasting to the net.

McCullagh and McElholm tagged on scores for a five-point lead going into the final 10 minutes

Monaghan persisted with their counter-attacking approach, and pulled back scores through Mooney and Dara McKenna, before midfielder Fionan Carolan narrowed the gap to a single point.

But time ran out for the Farney lads as Tyrone moved to within 60 minutes of a second provincial tiel in three years.

Tyrone C McAneney; J Clarke, B Hughes, Conor Devlin (0-1); S O’Hare (0-1), M Rafferty, O Brolly (0-1); R Fox (1-0), C O’Neill; Cormac Devlin (1-0), E McElholm (0-2), G Potter (0-1); R McCullagh (0-2, 1m), R Cassidy (0-1), C Daly.

Subs C Owens for Cassidy (50), N Grimes for Brolly (57), F Donnelly for Conor Devlon (60), P McCann for O’Neill (61)

Monaghan J Mooney; G Devlin, J McConnon,. S Casey; P Doogan Burke, T Hughes, O McGorman (0-1); A Carey, F Carolan (0-1); C Foy, S Callan, D McKenna (0-1); S Mooney (0-10, 6f, 2m, 1 ‘45), B McCaul, K Duffy (0-1, m).

Subs D Mee for Duffy (48)

Referee C Curran (Down)