Tuesday 20 February 2018

Heartbreak for Tipp as Tyrone hold on to claim under-21 title

Tyrone 1-11 Tipperary 0-13

2 May 2015; The Tyrone team celebrate after the match. EirGrid GAA All-Ireland U21 Football Championship Final, Tipperary v Tyrone. Parnell Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
2 May 2015; The Tyrone team celebrate after the match. EirGrid GAA All-Ireland U21 Football Championship Final, Tipperary v Tyrone. Parnell Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Tyrone captain Kieran McGarry lifts the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 Football Cup

Dermot Crowe

This was a night of high drama after a long day of incessant rain that made conditions deplorably unfit for a spectacle.

There had to be a compromise in quality but the football in the circumstances deserves every praise and the intensity never waned.

In the end Tyrone found a way after looking in trouble at half-time and celebrated their first All-Ireland under-21 title since Cormac McAnallen lifted the trophy in 2001. Tipp, as is their wont, were fighting to the death but came up a fraction short.

Looking for their first title at the grade, they went in at the interval 0-7 to 0-5 ahead, having faced driving rain and wind. They availed of a Tyrone performance that spoiled good work out the field with 10 wides. Tipp soaked up the pressure well, were disciplined in defence and economical when moving the ball ip the field. At the half-way point they looked the better bet.

An unexpected delay of 40 minutes for the restart, because of a medical emergency declared, seemed to have a more adverse affect on the team with the momentum. The match looked in doubt at one point but restarted. Tyrone looked the more game throughout the second period.

Ruairi McGlone was picked out near goal by a swiftly taken free by Mark Bradley but he drilled a low shot outside the post with the goal chance on. By the 40th minute they were level. The breakthrough came seven minutes later when midfielder Cathal McShane was lined up by Mark Kavanagh and he powered his shot past Evan Comerford in the Tipp goal. For the first time Tyrone had the lead, 1-9 to 0-10.

Tipperary have been in these situations before and weren't going to lay down and surrender.

Mark Kavanagh's breakaway score put Tyrone three points clear with less than three minutes left but two giant scores from Colin O'Riordan reduced it to the minimum with four additional minutes allowed.

Some missed frees by Kevin O'Halloran will be rued but he still ended up with 0-6, one from play, although one in front of the posts when Tipperary trailed by two will trouble him.

The Ulster champions brought Daniel McNulty out to the middle of the field in the first half to contest kick outs after Steven O'Brien and O'Riordan had dominated in the semi-final win over Dublin. O'Riordan was the more involved of Tipp's stellar pairing in the opening half and their movement at times showed why they have reached the final day.

A superb score from Ian Fahey put them two points clear before Tyrone registered after eight minutes through late inclusion Bradley, Conor Meyler had Tyrone them level but Tipp were never behind, and late in the half led by three when O'Halloran nailed a point after Tyrone gave away possession.

Tipperary were tidier, chalking up only two wides, and looked comfortable on the ball. Highlights of the half were scores from Tyrone's Michael Cassidy from distance and one by Tipp wing back Bill Maher following a beautiful demonstration of fast hands in an elaborate movement.

On the changeover, Tyrone closed down the space in their half of the field and attacked with venom, forcing frees. They began to find their range and McShane's goal was the game-changer. Tyrone lost defender Michael Cassidy to a second yellow in injury time.

Scorers - Tyrone: D McNulty 0-3 (0-3 fs); C McShane 1-0; L Brennan 0-2 (0-2 fs); M Bradley, M Kavanagh 0-2; C Meyler, M Cassidy 0-1. Tipperary: K O'Halloran 0-6 (0-5 fs); J Keane 0-3 (0-1f); C O'Riordan 0-2 (0-1); I Fahey, B Maher, L Boland 0-1.

Tyrone: S Fox; R Mullan, P Hampsey, C McLaughlin; K McGeary, R Brennan, M Cassidy; F Burns, C McShane; M Kavanagh, C Meyler, M Walsh; M Bradley, D McNulty, L Brennan. Subs: R McGlone for Walsh (half-time); R Kelly for McShane (inj 58 mins); P McKenna for Brennan (62).

Tipperary: E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, C O'Shaughnessy; R Mulcahy, L Boland, B Maher; S O'Brien, C O'Riordan; J Longergan, I Fahey, L Casey; K O'Halloran, J Keane, P Maher. Subs: J McGrath for P Maher (52 mins);

Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

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