Tyrone prevail in dour battle with Monaghan
Tyrone 1-13 1-11 Monaghan: If the Armagh-Down clash showed Ulster football in a radiant light, then this fractious, snarling affair in front of 10,937 fans at saturated Healy Park, Omagh yesterday was certainly not pitched to the highest aesthetic taste.
On a day when the exchanges complemented the weather - dull, dour and unrelenting - reigning champions Tyrone kept alive their hopes of landing a hat-trick of provincial crowns.
But in what was far from being a straightforward day at the office, they survived some late heavy shelling from a resilient but technically limited Monaghan side to book their passage into the last four.
Survival supplanted sportsmanship in a match that yielded 61 frees as yellow cards were bandied like confetti by referee Cormac Reilly - he showed eight to Tyrone and five to Monaghan - but it was Eamonn McEnaney's side who were effectively brought to their knees by a double helping of red with the dismissals of skipper Dick Clerkin the 29th minute and Dessie Mone in injury-time.
Tyrone were routinely efficient but the laboured manner in which they eventually subdued a side which scored just twice from play and surrendered possession much too easily will now provide food for thought on the training ground. Yet they employed their experience and craft to good effect.
Monaghan, with their half-forward line shackled and their midfield rendered all but impotent following the departure of Clerkin, relied on stubbornness, perseverance and pride to stay in the hunt but their shortcomings were, nonetheless, starkly amplified.
Conor McManus sc0ored all of Monaghan's six points with five coming from frees but the elegant Clontibret clubman presented the only discernible threat to Tyrone's defensive stability throughout and his team's ragged build-ups invariably played into their opponents' hands.
In contrast, Tyrone themselves radiated calm and authority, albeit spasmodically. Their grip on the proceedings, though, tightened considerably in the 18th minute when Brian McGuigan thundered home a superb goal.
That eased his side into a 1-4 to 0-5 lead and from then until half-time Monaghan were all but imprisoned inside their own half.
Sean Cavanagh, who was to land four points in all, steered over a 32nd minute which Stephen O'Neill complemented by a similar score a minute later to give Tyrone a 1-7 to 0-6 half-time lead.
Monaghan flashed a sharp warning to the Red Hands when full-back Darren Hughes rocketed home a 48th minute penalty after the dangerous McManus had been upended to leave just two points between the teams at 1-10 to 1-8, Cavanagh (2) and Harte having ensured that the champions retained a useful if not totally flattering advantage.
When O'Neill and substitute Owen Mulligan eased Tyrone further in front at 1-12 to to 1-9, the prospect of a grandstand finish by the Red Hands loomed large.
Instead, it was Monaghan who put a gloss on the last quarter. Full-back Hughes hoisted over a long-range point to maintain the belief that an improbable win might ensue and when this was bolstered by another point from Finlay the side had truly caught fire.
But turnovers, missed chances and Mone's red card proved the portents for defeat.
Tyrone: P McConnell; M Swift, C McCarron, R McMenamin, D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan, S Cavanagh (0-4, 0-3 frees), A Cassidy, B Dooher, B McGuigan (1-1), P Harte (0-2, 0-1 '45', 0-1 free), M Penrose (0-2, both frees), S O'Neill (0-3), M Donnelly. Subs: D Carlin for McCarron (16 mins), C Cavanagh (43), S O'Neill for Carlin (51), O Mulligan (0-1) for Penrose (56), K Hughes for Cassidy (65). Yellow cards: McCarron (13 mins), Jordan (26), Cassidy (26), S Cavanagh (27), Penrose (42), McMenamin (48), C Cavanagh (67), K Hughes (70).
Monaghan: M Keogh; K Duffy, D Hughes (1-1), C Walsh, C Galligan, D Mone, O Duffy, E Lennon, D Clerkin, S Gollogly, M Downey, N McAdam, D McKenna, P Finlay (0-4, 0-3 frees) C McManus (0-6, 0-5 frees). Subs: J Turley for Gollogly (26 mins), C McGuinness for McKenna (half-time), D Morgan for Galligan (45), D malone for Turley (56), B O'Brien for O Duffy (65). Yellow cards: Galligan (14 mins), Lennon (26), Clerkin (27), Hughes (32), Clerkin (29). Red cards: Clerkin (29), Mone (72).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).