TYRONE 4-13 MONAGHAN 2-19
(aet, Monaghan won 6-5 on pens)
TYRONE Minors came out on the wrong end of a rip-roaring encounter at Roslea on Saturday afternoon, Monaghan prevailing in a dramatic penalty shootout lottery after extra-time to take their spot in this weekend’s Ulster Final.
On four seperate occasions over the course of an exhausting but superbly entertaining eighty plus minutes of action the Red Hands had built up either four or five point cushions, but each time their dogged opponents were able to reel in the deficit.
Tyrone roared out of the starting blocks and led 1-2 to no score inside three minutes, midfielder James Corry finding the far corner of the net and Leo Hughes and Ruairi McCullagh (free) also registering.
Any prospect of this being another cakewalk for the rampant Red Hnads were quickly dispelled though as Monaghan responded with a rapid-fire two goals and three points, and all within the first ten minutes of the contest.
McGinnity slotted over two frees, and Matthew Finn also thumped a beauty, while their goals were expertly put away by Finn again and Luke McKenna. This was far from a slow burner.
Tyrone maintained the fifth gear pace of the early exchanges with another goal themselves in the 11th minute, Liam Lawn marauding up the middle to fire past Maguire in nets.
Each team was taking it in turns to go on these devestating scoring bursts and Tyrone proceeded to rattle off four points on the spin, McCullagh with a brace (one free) and Hegarty and Hughes (with the fist) raising white flags.
Monaghan were struggling to break the Tyrone press with their kick-out and midfielder Nathan Farry twice capitalised with points, and McCullagh also hoisted a wonderful effort. This was after Monaghan full-forward Finn twice split the posts, as a breathtaking opening period came to a close.
With the Monaghan back unit getting to grips with their task after the break, Tyrone scores dried up and two dead ball conversions from McGinnity and Finn drew the Farney to within one.
The Red Hands sprung to life again in the 45th minute as McCullagh put Hughes in the clear to blast home a terrfic third Tyrone goal, just after Watson pulled off a fine fingertip save to deny sub Max Maguire at the other end.
Four in arrears Monaghan kept pushing and after Luke McKenna floated over an excellent effort, sub Sean Og McElwain made an immediate impact with two super shots over the Tyrone bar.
Tonny Mallen surged through to draw Monaghan level and the sides remained locked together after McCullagh and McGinnity exchanged injury time frees to set up extra-time.
Both boys were again on the mark from placed balls on the resumption before Tyrone sub Liam Corry found the net for his side’s fourth goal, reacting quickly to swoop on a loose ball. Long range attempts from subs Tommy Taggart and Jamie Concannon hammered home their advantage.
Incredibly Tyrone still led 4-13 to 2-14 as the match ticked into the 77th minute but somehow Monaghan conjured up the effort and spirit to cancel out the deficit, captain Matthew Carolan and McKenna among the scorers, before McGinnity stood up at the death with a wonderful converted free under the severest of pressure.
That hinted it was to be Monaghan’s day and that was how it played out in the subsequent spotkick drama.
Ruairi McCullagh (0-6,4frees), Leo Hughes (1-2), Liam Lawn (1-0), James Corry (1-0), Liam Corry (1-0), Nathan Farry (0-2,1free), Aidan Hegarty, Jamie Concannon, Tommy Taggart (0-1 each)
Max McGinnity (0-8,all frees), Matthew Finn (1-4,1 ’45’), Luke McKenna (1-2), Sean Og McElwain (0-2), Matthew Carolan, Tommy Mallen (0-1 each), Jamie Mooney (0-1,free)
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