Tyrone Under Twenty One manager Raymond Munroe must surely have left Pairc Esler in Newry last night with mixed emotions following his team’s exciting extra time draw with Down. Tyrone were outplayed for long periods during the game but hung on grimly and the introduction of Richard Donnelly late in the match appeared to have turned things in the Red Hands favour. Indeed as the game entered the second period of extra time Tyrone looked like the team most likely to win it. A couple of efforts from Patrick Mc Neice and some fine play from Ronan O’Neill and Matty Donnelly almost succeeded in sneaking the win but in fairness to Down they did not deserve to lose what had been a very keenly contested match.
On reflection I would imagine the management team will have plenty of food for thought following the game. Their full back line struggled particularly in the first half as Michael Slane and Ronan Mc Namee were given a testing time by their opponents. Tyrone’s midfield pairing also failed to exert any real influence on the game and it was only when 2010 minor Donnelly entered the game that they began to establish a platform for attacks.
However credit must be given to Down who produced a very committed and whole hearted team performance as they pushed Tyrone all the way. They played with great intensity and passion and it was no surprise to see them out on their feet at the end of the game.
In previous year Tyrone could well have lost this type of game but the players refused to accept defeat and engineered a draw when it looked like they might be heading for the exit door. Raymond Munroe will be delighted with the spirit shown by his players and although there were several under par performances the return to action of Kyle Coney and Ronan Mc Nabb were huge plus points for the manager.
The replay will take place next Wednesday night in Omagh and if we get half as exciting a game as we got in the drawn game we will not be too disappointed.