CAVAN 0-12 TYRONE 1-10
TYRONE’S defence of their Ulster minor title began with a win at Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday afternoon but they had to withstand a Cavan fightback to get over the line with the minimum to spare.
With the wind at their backs in the first half they dominated things and were well worth their 0-8 to 0-3 interval advantage.
They stretched that lead on the restart but just as they were looking comfortable they lost centre half forward Ruairi McCullagh to a second yellow card at the beginning of the final quarter. That was a blow for the visitors and Cavan upped the ante to hold their opponents to just a single point as they clawed their way back into the game only for their comeback to come up short.
Darragh Donaghy’s goal in the end proved to be crucial on a day when Tyrone’s forward line struggled.
Their defence though stood out in more ways than one as they contributed half a dozen points between them with man of the match Conor Devlin kicking a brilliant brace in the first half.
The hard working Brian Gallagher opened the scoring for Tyrone in the third minute before Ben O’Hara levelled matters from a free.
Tyrone though were already looking the better side and they began to turn possession into scores. A McCullagh free gave them an advantage that they were never to lose before full forward Aidan Hegarty scored from a free as well as from play for a 0-4 to 0-1 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Centre half back Conor O’Neill then scored a captain’s point after driving forward to split the posts from distance before McCullagh kicked a beauty from out on the right wing.
Cavan were struggling to make an impact against the Tyrone defence but full forward Jake Whyte did end a twenty minute barren spell for them when he converted a free.
Devlin then burst forward to score after exchanging passes with Leo Hughes and the Ardboe teenager repeated the feat as the opening period slipped into injury time.
Cavan did have the final say of the half with a 20-metre free from the boot of Whyte but it was Tyrone who led 0-8 to 0-3.
In the opening moments of the second half corner back Jamie Concannon got forward to get his name on the scoresheet as the visitors picked up were they had left off.
O’Hara responded with a free after he had been fouled himself and in the next 10 minutes there was no further scoring despite both sides enjoying good possession.
In the 43rd minute the only goal of the game arrived when a strong run from Liam Corry saw him play the ball to Donaghy who gave Cavan keeper Liam Bell no chance with a good finish low to the net.
Tyrone now led by seven and it looked as though they would kick on from here but they managed to just add another point to their tally.
Darragh Noonan and Whyte both converted Cavan frees before Tyrone lost McCullagh in the 48th minute to his second yellow card just four minutes after he had picked up his first one.
Cavan saw their opportunity and they began to dominate with Brady scoring from play and substitute Arijus Metiovas converting a 45 to leave just a single score between the sides.
O’Neill settled Tyrone’s nerves a little with a 55th minute free but Cavan continued to push forward.
O’Hara pointed again before influential captain Aaron Shekleton left it a two point game. The Tyrone defence was under the cosh but Devlin, O’Neill, James Rafferty and Leo Hughes all stood firm and while Cavan did get another point via Odhran Madden the Red Hands held on.
Jake Whyte 0-4 (4F), Ben O’Hara 0-3 (2F), Darragh Noonan 0-1 (1F), Fiachra Brady 0-1, Arijus Metiovas 0-1 (45), Aaron Shekleton 0-1, Odhran Madden 0-1
Darragh Donaghy 1-0, Ruairi McCullagh 0-2 (1F), Aidan Hegarty 0-2 (1F), Conor Devlin 0-2, Conor O’Neill 0-2 (1F), Brian Gallagher 0-1, Jamie Concannon 0-1
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