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Tyrone show their quality to ensure a final fling

Tyrone 2-12 Armagh 2-08

By Declan Bogue

Published 02/04/2015

Pumped up: Tyrone’s Ruairi McGlone shows his delight after scoring for the Red Hands at Breffni Park last night
Pumped up: Tyrone’s Ruairi McGlone shows his delight after scoring for the Red Hands at Breffni Park last night

Tyrone got through to their first Ulster U21 final since 2012 with an impressive performance, the level of which perhaps was not reflected on the scoreboard.

The game was moved to Cavan's Breffni Park during the day, and the delayed throw-in left no ill-effects on Feargal Logan's men as they made the early running.

Against an Armagh attack that would not commit enough numbers forward, Tyrone grabbed the first three points with a well-worked move concluded by Ruairi McGlone, a point from distance by captain Kieran McGeary and a fine individual effort from Clonoe full-forward Danny McNulty.

The latter withstood pressure from marker Shea Heffron to hook over with his left foot.

Armagh's response was rapid though and they wiped out that lead when a long ball in from Jamie Cosgrove was superbly fielded by Aidan Nugent above the head of Feargal McGarrity, and he posted it to the top corner of the net.

It was only temporary reprieve, however. Late inclusion Lee Brennan - who scored three points in three minutes after coming on against Fermanagh in the last round - converted a free and shortly after latched onto a loose ball around the goal and controlled it with his first touch to slide it into the corner of the net.

Four minutes later, their second goal arrived when Tyrone turned over possession from an Armagh kickout, put Conor Meyler in the clear and he lobbed Orchard keeper Blaine Hughes from 30 yards.

Despite the fact there was no breeze, Armagh were struggling to get anything to stick in their full forward line and made a number of rotational switches before settling on a two-man full-forward line of Nugent and Callum Cumiskey.

They also made three first-half switches, taking off their captain and their full-forward.

Further points landed from McNulty and McGeary, with an Ethan Rafferty free the only Armagh response to leave the half time score 2-6 to 1-1.

The excellent Cathal McShane was to notch the first point of the second half, but for a while it looked like Armagh might come back strong when they scored five of the next six points.

Three Rafferty points from the dead ball, all with varying degrees of difficulty as the rain fell in sheets, looked like kick-starting a revival, but Tyrone staved it off with points from the lively Brennan and McNulty.

With the game in its last minutes, Nugent produced a brilliant diagonal ball to Ryan McShane and he drilled a shot goalwards, but Tyrone goalkeeper Sean Fox got a stiff fist to it.

It felt like that was Armagh's chance gone as that would have left three points between the sides, but further points from Brennan and Mark Kavanagh left Tyrone looking comfortable in extra time.

A late goal from substitute Jack Grugan put some respectability on the scoreline in the end for Armagh.

Tyrone now meet Donegal in the final next Wednesday night at a venue to be decided. They have mown down all in their path, but both will be truly tested for the first time in the showpiece.

Belfast Telegraph

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