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All-Ireland Minor Final: Tyrone 1-13 Cork 1-12

O’Neill hits vital strike as Red Hands hold on

The Tom Markham Cup will reside in Ulster for a third successive year after Tyrone held off a determined Cork fightback to win the All-Ireland minor title at Croke Park yesterday afternoon.

It was a cracking contest between two well-drilled sides and in the end the Red Hands just about justified their favourites tag to win the county’s fourth All-Ireland minor crown in the past ten years.

A goal from midfielder Harry Og Conlon helped Tyrone lead by four points at the break and when they stretched their advantage to 1-12 to 0-7 with less than ten minutes to play they looked to be home and dry.

This Cork side though had left it late in their previous three championship games before coming back to win and they staged a superb comeback with Kevin Hallissey bagging a goal and Dan McEoin kicking a number of points but with the Red Hands on the rack Ronan O’Neill scored a crucial late point and they held on in a frantic finish.

Tyrone completed dominated the opening 20 minutes and by the time that Cork got their first score they were already 1-5 to 0-0 adrift. Half backs Niall Sludden and Eunan Deeney hit points with man of the match John McCullagh weighing in with a superb brace.

In the 20th minute Tyrone struck for their goal when a brilliant pass from O’Neill saw Conlon get a flick to it and even though Cork keeper David Hanrahan saved it the rebound fell to the midfielder who slammed the ball into the net.

Brian Hurley finally opened the Munster champions’ account and McEoin and Hallissey tagged on further scores with the latter’s fierce drive just clearing the crossbar. It was Tyrone, though, who had the final say of the opening period through centre half back Michael Donaghy as they led 1-6 to 0-5 at the break.

McCullagh and O’Neill added quick points on the restart with McEoin and John O’Rourke responding for Cork. Ryan Devlin, Conlon, McCullagh and Conan Grugan then all scored points for the Ulster champions and at this stage Cork looked a beaten side.

They rolled up their sleeves though to make a real game of it in a thrilling finale. McEoin kicked another point before Hallissey took a pass from Hurley to finish in style low to the bottom right hand corner of the net past Tyrone keeper Colm Spiers.

There were only five minutes left to play and it was Cork who had all the momentum now. A McEoin point came either side of an O’Rourke brace and all of a sudden just the minimum divided the two sides.

Tyrone had a great chance to final wrap up the game when Conlon raced clear but he was denied by keeper Hanrahan although O’Neill pointed from the rebound.

Cork threw everything forward in a last ditch attempt to salvage the game and although McEoin hit his fifth point of the game it was Tyrone who held on to emerge All-Ireland minor champions and saw Shea McGarrity (pictured) lift the trophy.

Tyrone: C Spiers, S McGarrity, C Clarke, HP McGeary, N Sludden [0-1], M Donaghy [0-1], E Deeney [0-1], H Og Conlon [1-0], C Grugan [0-2], R Donnelly, T Canavan [0-1], R Devlin [0-1], S Tierney, J McCullagh [0-4], R O’Neill [0-2]. Subs: P McNulty for Donaghy, L Girvan for Devlin, D Donnelly for Tierney.

Cork: D Hanrahan, K Fulignati, M O’Shea, A Cronin, C O’Sullivan, T Clancy, J Wall, J Burns, D Cahalane, J O’Rourke [0-3], M Sugrue, D McEoin [0-5], K Hallissey [1-1], T Hegarty, B Hurley [0-3]. Subs : D Fitzgerald for Hegarty, L O’Connolly for Sugrue, D |O’Donovan for Fulignati, S O’Mahony for |O’Sullivan, K Sheehan for O’Rourke.

Referee: M Duffy, Sligo.

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