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Red Hands put stop to Farney Army's march

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney reckoned his side hasn't played so poorly in six years, but perhaps, in the emotional aftermath of the Ulster SFC final, he wasn't ready to appreciate the craft, class and experience which Tyrone employed to squeeze the life out of their title challenge.

For the first time since 1996, the Red Hands put provincial titles back to back, denying the Farney army their first shot at glory since 1988.

There were a few anxious moments for the champions, but those were dealt with by goalkeeper Pascal McConnell, who produced two stunning first half saves from the Freeman brothers, Tommy and Damien.

Otherwise, this was a lesson in containment, with the Tyrone defence snuffing out all the threats.

Cathal McCarron emerged triumphant in his battle with Tommy Freeman, Justin McMahon held Conor McManus scoreless from play, and Conor Gormley rendered Paul Finlay virtually ineffective, the Ballybay man eventually substituted 15 minutes from the end.

Once again, Tyrone's players looked comfortable in whatever role the situation demanded, with 10 different players getting on the scoresheet and forwards defending like demons all afternoon. Manager Mickey Harte admitted, however, that but for McConnell's saves, the game may not have been won so comfortably.

"You take the two goal chances that Monaghan had, and for Packie McConnell to keep them out gave us the great confidence, because we had been playing good football, and maybe not that far ahead.

"And if either, or both, of those goals had gone in, we would have been in a serious bad position, because when you play a lot of football, and aren't putting it up on the board, it would have been a very different game.

"So little things like that change the complexion of a game, and when we survived those goal scares, we knew we were capable of delivering some more," said Harte.

In between the saves, the first 20 minutes were evenly balanced, with Tommy Freeman and Finlay on target for Monaghan, and Tommy McGuigan and Gormley responding.

The sides were level when Philip Jordan cancelled out a Rory Woods score in the 22nd minute, but a run of points from Seán Cavanagh, Davy Harte and Kevin Hughes sent Tyrone in at the break with a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage.


The Red Hands pushed on, with Martin Penrose, Seán Cavanagh and Joe McMahon adding to the mounting tally, and with 14 minutes to play, and trailing by 0-10 to 0-4, it was clear that Monaghan's challenge was spent.

"Maybe the last 15 minutes, Monaghan found that the game was going away from them, and it was hard to try and salvage the day," Harte remarked.

"But I'd say up until that time, it wasn't totally secured until we scored our goal."

That goal came in the 65th minute, when midfielder Colm Cavanagh galloped through a gap in the Monaghan defence to fire home a superb finish.

Monaghan boss McEnaney admitted he faces a big task in lifting his players ahead of next weekend's Qualifier tie.

"It probably was Monaghan's worst performance in six years. It's wild disappointing.

"We're together a long time, and we have had a lot of setbacks. Today is one of our worst setbacks.

"We were very, very poor, especially the second half, but listen, we'll get on with the job. We'll go for something to eat now tonight and we'll start preparing for next Saturday night," he said.

But he acknowledged that his players had been beaten by one of the best teams he has ever seen.

"Tyrone are not three-time All-Ireland champions for nothing. They're the best team in Ulster from when I ever started watching football.

"But regardless of how Tyrone played today, Monaghan was very disappointing. We have to live with that, we have to live with how we played today, and we have to pick ourselves up on Tuesday night in training."