I suppose it should not have come as any great surprise when Tyrone and Down finished level at the end of normal time in their Under 21 quarter final replay in Omagh on Wednesday night. There was very little between these sides in their first meeting and so it proved again in the replay. Kyle Coney showed nerves of steel to knock over a free with time almost up as the clock on the scoreboard ticked past thirty four minutes of the second half.
The replay had everything the drawn game had and if anything the standard of football was even better. Tyrone started off in blistering fashion as senior panellists Niall Mc Kenna and Peter Harte drove their team mates forward. But the men in red and black refused to panic and by half time were deservedly ahead.
By the seventh minute of the first half Tyrone led four points to one but they failed to build on their impressive start and during the remainder of the half were guilty of some very poor misses. Down on the other hand showed great team work and commitment as they overhauled Tyrone’s lead and a goal from full forward Harrison put them in pole position at the short whistle.
Tyrone re-jigged things at the break and the introduction of Ciaran Gervin seemed to give the team a lift at the start of the second half. In spite of playing better as a team however they could not breach the rugged and determined Down rearguard. The game evolved in a similar manner to last week’s and the possibility of a draw loomed large for a long time. The introduction of John Mc Cullagh late in the game added an extra bit of pace and movement to the Tyrone forward unit and the Greencastle man won the free that Coney converted to take the game to extra time.
Neither team could deliver the killer blow during extra time as the game swung firstly in Tyrone’s favour and then in Down’s. Both managers cleared their benches in an attempt to get the win but the sides could not be separated. A draw was once again a fair result and it looks like it will be Saturday night for the third round of this intriguing battle. Tyrone will be hoping to show more cohesion and better teamwork as they go in search of a semi final place while Down will be looking for more of the same from their squad.