All Ireland champions Tyrone produced at outstanding second half display at Celtic Park on Wednesday evening to beat Donegal and qualify for an Ulster U21 final showdown with Monaghan.
The Red Hands had played second fiddle to their opponents for most of the opening period yet somehow only found themselves two points adrift at the short whistle, 0-6 to 0-4.
Donegal were into their stride straight from the throw in but they kicked three early wides and it was Tyrone who struck first with points from Mark Kavanagh and Lee Brennan. Donegal soon got going though and points from Stephen McBrearty Ciaran Thompson and Christian Bonner enabled them to establish a 0-5 to 0-2 lead. The hard working Sean Fox got a badly needed Tyrone point after his namesake had brilliantly denied Andy McClean a goal. Cathal McShane and McBrearty traded late first half points from frees.
The second half was only ten seconds old when a long ball in from Caolan McGonagle put Jamie Brennan in the clear but again keeper Fox was equal to the task with a save right out of the top drawer. It proved to be a key moment in the game as the holders grew in stature after that. Frank Burns weighed in with an inspirational score from distance before full forward Ryan Coleman got on the end of a high ball to punch over the equaliser.
That Coleman score was in the 7th minute and sixty seconds later the Moy man reacted first to a Kavanagh shot that came back off the post to smash an unstoppable shot to the top right hand corner of the net. McBrearty closed the gap from a free and four minutes after Tyrone’s goal Donegal got one of their own from substitute Conor Doherty to get their noses in front again. Undaunted by that Tyrone took their game to a level that their opponents simply couldn’t deal with as Donegal’s indiscipline raised its head. Within a minute of getting their goal Donegal lost McGonagle to a black card and Stephen McMenamin to a second yellow. A Brennan point from play was followed by an unbelievable side line conversion from the same player as the holders turned the screw.
Brennan, Kavanagh and centre half back Sean Loughran all tagged on points, the latter’s’ shot going over via the bar. By that stage Donegal were down to thirteen men as substitute Bruce Waldron completed an unwanted hatrick of yellow, black and red cards having been only on the field for six minutes.
Tyrone continued to move through the gears with Coleman on target again to put them six clear. Two minutes into injury time McBrearty converted a penalty but Tyrone weren’t to be denied with Colm Byrne getting a late insurance point as it finished 1-15 to 2-8. There were disgraceful scenes at the final whistle as Donegal’s indiscipline, which had plagued them throughout the second half, again came to the fore. A great win for Tyrone who now play Monaghan in the final at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh next Wednesday night.