Goals prove crucial as Tyrone survive Down rally
Eirgrid Ulster U-20 FC quarter-final: Tyrone 2-11 Down 1-12
Tyrone survived a courageous comeback from Down to squeeze through to the provincial semi-final in a Healy Park thriller.
Ahead by ten points at the break, the Red Hands had a firm grip on this roller-coaster tie, but their opponents would have a gusting wind in their backs in the second half, and how they used it to their advantage as they took the game fearlessly to the home side.
First-half goals by Darragh Canavan and Mark McKearney were to prove so valuable to Tyrone, providing a cushion that helped them to hold on after Conor Clarke's brilliant late strike reduced the margin to a single point.
It was all about survival at this stage for the home side, and they displayed calmness under almost unbearable pressure to hold out for a narrow win.
Tiarnan Quinn was clinically accurate from frees and play, and it was 2-6 to 0-2 at the break, but Down came storming back with the wind in their favour, and scores from Liam Kerr, Declan McClements and Conor Clarke saw them eat away at Tyrone's lead.
Kerr provided the assist for Clarke, a driving force from start to finish, to smash home a superb 62nd-minute goal, leaving just a point between the sides with almost five minutes of injury-time remaining.
However, they were unable to find that vital levelling point, with Tyrone holding on to priceless possession in the closing stages, before skipper Ruairi Gormley hit the target to seal it for a relieved home side.
Scorers - Tyrone: T Quinn 0-6 (4f); D Canavan 1-1; M McKearney 1-0; S Óg McAleer (f), R Gormley, M Conroy, O Mallon 0-1 each. Down: C Clarke 1-3; L Kerr 0-4 (2f); D McClements, S Loughran (2f) 0-2 each; R McEvoy 0-1.
Tyrone - O Grimes; A Clarke, C Quinn, P Mullan; C Grimes, A Fox, C Devlin; R Gormley, J Oguz; P Óg McCartan, D Canavan, M McKearney; J Garrity, S Óg McAleer, T Quinn. Subs: L Gray for McCartan (6), M Conroy for McAleer (h-t), D McGuigan for Devlin (52), O Mallon for Gray (55), E Jordan for T Quinn (58), Lorcan McBride for Fox (63).
Down - J Hazard; P Fegan, R McCrickard, A McAvoy; J McGeough, C Clarke, S Annett; R Carr, L Middleton; F McIlroy, D McClements, R McCormack; C McCrickard, L Kerr, S Loughran. Subs: C O'Rawe for McCormack (h-t), A Devlin for C McCrickard (h-t), D Rice for Annett (43), R McEvoy for Loughran (54), B Gallen for Clarke (62), R Harrison for Middleton (67).
Ref - A Marron (Monaghan)