Not the best weekend for Tyrone GAA with defeat for the senior hurlers and senior footballers as well a penalty shoot out loss for the minors in the Ulster Championship semi final against Monaghan.
The defending Ulster Minor Champions and management deserve great credit for the quality of play in Saturday’s game at the superbly appointed Roslea pitch but they will spend considerable time scratching their heads and wondering how they lost this one. In fairness Monaghan showed considerable determination and doggedness especially to come back from being five points behind at half time of extra time to take the game to penalties.
Both goalkeepers were superb in the shoot out but Monaghan keeper Jamie Mooney had that wee bit of luck that situations like penalties require and ultimately secured the win after the game ended Tyrone 4-13, Monaghan 2-19.
The match was played at real championship pace with both teams intent on taking chances from the off. Tyrone were first out of the traps with a James Corry goal and points from Ruairi Mc Cullagh and Leo Hughes to lead 1-2 to no score after three minutes. Monaghan replied hitting 2-3 unanswered with their goals coming from the very impressive Matthew Finn and Max Mc Ginnity.
With less than twelve minutes on the clock Monaghan were on top but Tyrone responded like true champions. From then until the break they outscored their opponents eight points to three to reach half time leading 2-9 to 2-6 with Liam Lawn, Aidan Hegarty, Hughes, Mc Cullagh and Nathan Farry all on target.
The second half was as action packed as the first with both teams enjoying periods of dominance and creating ample scoring chances.Mc Ginnity and Finn made the most of their chances to narrow the gap to one before Leo Hughes capitalised on a half chance and finished the ball to the net to put Tyrone four clear again.
With defences on top scores were hard to come by but strong running from Luke Mc Kenna and two fine strikes from Monaghan substitute Sean Óg Mc Elwaine left a point between the teams before a Tommy Mallen point tied the game once more. Ruairi Mc Cullagh and Max Mc Ginnity swapped points and the game went to extra time.
Monaghan got the first score of extra time but from then until half time it was all Tyrone. The Red Hands dominated the first period of extra time with points from Mc Cullagh, Tommy Taggart and James Concannon and a goal from Liam Corry. Gerard Donnellly’s team reached the break with a five point lead but with greater composure it could have been even more.
The second half of extra time saw Monaghan run their bench as they went in search of the scores they needed to get back into the game. Goalkeeper Mooney converted a forty five and as the clock ticked on the Farney men sensed the comeback was on. Luke Mc Kenna reduced the gap to three before midfielder Matthew Carolan made it a two point game. Two awkward frees from the foot of Mc Ginnity secured the draw and took the tie to penalties which eventually finished 6-5 in favour of the Farney side.