Tyrone thwarted as tenacious Monaghan seal title win
Tyrone 0-11 Monaghan 0-13
Monaghan produced a stirring third quarter of skill and steel to win their first Ulster Under-21 title since 1999, in the process dethroning Tyrone from their provincial and All-Ireland crowns.
Oriels manager Ciaran McBride got the better of his former Tyrone team-mates - manager Feargal Logan and selectors Brian Dooher and Peter Canavan - and they now play the winners of the Munster final (Cork v Kerry), which takes place tonight, in next Saturday's All-Ireland semi-final.
When the ball needed to be moved fast, Monaghan were able to achieve it through accurate kick-passing. They carried a threat from Feargal McMahon and Conor McCarthy inside, but were stymied equally by Tyrone's twin sweepers Michael Flanagan and Frank Burns.
The Red Hands began brighter and might have had the ball in the net after six minutes when Sean Fox had two clear chances at the Monaghan goal, goalkeeper Conor Forde proving alert and acrobatic for the follow-up.
Tyrone's dangerman Lee Brennan produced five points in the opening half, two from play, a sideline swung over with the outside of his left boot from a tight angle in the left corner a particular highlight, before some off-the-ball grappling by Loughran earned a black card from referee Niall Cullen prior to half-time.
The scores at that stage had Tyrone ahead by the slenderest margin, 0-7 to 0-6.
At the start of the second-half, the Oriels pushed all their players up to prevent Tyrone goalkeeper Sean Fox taking short kickouts. In the first three minutes after the break, two Barry McGinn contributions and one from McCarthy gave them a 0-09 to 0-07 lead.
McCarthy produced a beautifully-struck effort from distance, only bettered within the minute by corner-back Barry Kerr that granted them a three-point lead. Five points in seven minutes was a productive streak of form.
Tyrone's difficulties were best exemplified through the struggles of their marquee players. Cathal McShane was peripheral, David Mulgrew showed little throughout and when the game was in the balance, Mark Kavanagh ballooned two crucial possessions aimlessly into the air.
There might have been a hint of a goal chance when Kavanagh took a point on 39 minutes, but then they went a crucial 16 minutes without a score.
During that time, Loughran's black card replacement Aodh Curran showed his ability to get in the right position for interceptions when the ball came into Brennan, rendering the Trillick man scoreless in the second-half.
The defensive effort was capped by the clever Ryan McAnespie, who became the first Monaghan man to help himself to Ulster medals at minor, Under-21 and senior level.
After forcing another turnover from a Tyrone kickout, McGinn's sixth point left Monaghan 0-12 to 0-9 in front with 10 minutes remaining.
McShane sent over a free and a Mulgrew effort squeezed over on the angle forced a sweat in the closing minutes.
But from this point on, Tyrone wasted possession carelessly and a point from sub Adam Treanor gave Monaghan that two-point cushion.
The final play featured Brennan lobbing a free towards the net in a desperate attempt for a goal, but Monaghan managed to get their hands on the ball before Cullen's final whistle blew.
TYRONE: S Fox (Killyclogher); C McCann 0-1, M McKernan, S Hamill 0-1; C Byrne, F Burns, M O'Neill; C McShane 0-2, 1f, S Loughran; M Flanagan, M Kavanagh 0-1, D Mulgrew 0-1; L Brennan 0-5, 2f, 1x'sl', R Coleman, S Fox (Greencastle). Subs: D Gallagher for Coleman (h-time), S O'Donnell for McCann (39), R McGlone for O'Neill (46), B O'Donnell for Flanagan (50), P McGirr for Byrne (60)
MONAGHAN: C Forde; B Kerr 0-1, M Murnaghan, K Loughran; D Ward, J Mealiff, N Rooney; N Loughman, A Lynch 0-1; R McAnespie, B McGinn 0-6, 5f, D Meegan; M O'Dowd, C McCarthy 0-3, 1f, F McMahon 0-1. Subs: F Maguire for O'Dowd (42), B McBennett for McMahon (47), A Treanor 0-1 for Lynch (60)
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).