Late surge secures Tyrone win
A late surge inspired by substitutes Stephen McGrath and Rian McHugh helped Tyrone to power into the Ulster Minor Football Championship Final at the expense of an error-prone Down at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan, yesterday.
The Red Hands, much more enterprising and direct after the break, profited from an abundance of break ball, their penchant for mounting lightning counter-thrusts cementing their grip as the contest progressed.
Early points from Daire Gallagher and Lee Brennan fuelled Tyrone with a confidence burst but when Tom Grimley and Aaron McClements began to exert their influence at midfield, Down looked rather more menacing.
Their full-forward line of Conor Doyle, Conor McGrady and Cory Quinn carried a potential threat and when Quinn struck a brace of points it signalled a spell of dominance for his side.
As half-time approached Doyle hit two points, allied to another from McGrady, which gave Down a 0-6 to 0-5 interval lead.
On the resumption, Tyrone flashed over four quickfire points with Gallagher and Brennan along with Padraig McGirr and David Mulgrew on target. Yet when Down trimmed the O'Neill county's lead to one point at 0-10 to 0-9, their renaissance began to carry considerable conviction.
But Stephen McGrath made a spectacular entry from the bench, landing a point with his first touch and then drilling in the only goal of the game which, added to a point from another substitute Rian McHugh, copper-fastened Tyrone's passage into the decider.
Down: R Malone; R Magee, K Colgan, A Fegan; D McKeever, D McCarthy, T McInerney; T Grimley, A McClements; P Havern, S McGonigle, D McAleenan; C Doyle (0-3, 0-1 free), C McGrady (0-2), C Quinn (0-5, 0-2 frees). Subs: S Dobbin for Havern (44 mins), P O'Hagan for McGrady (51).
Tyrone: S Fox; C Byrne, R Quinn, C McCann; S Hamill, C Morris, P McGirr (0-1); R Nugent, F Burns; D Mulgrew (0-1), C McKenna, D Gallagher (0-4, 0-3 frees); L Brennan (0-3), R McGlone (0-1), M Lynn. Subs: C O'Donnell for Lynn (36 mins), S McGrath (1-1) for Gallagher (46), R McHugh (0-1) for Nugent (53), P Donnelly for Mulgrew (57), C McShane for Brennan (59).
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).