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Gormley point seals the deal for Tyrone

 

John Campbell

By John Campbell

Tyrone remain on course to mount a strong challenge for the Ulster U20 football championship title even though they were forced to survive a scare against Down in yesterday's quarter-final at Healy Park, Omagh.

The Red Hands were pushed to the pin of their collar by Conor Deegan's side before they managed to ease over the line with just two points to spare (2-11 to 1-12).

And their semi-final opponents will be Cavan who caught neighbours Monaghan on the hop yesterday by coming out on top in the remaining quarter-final at Kingspan Breffni by 1-13 to 2-4.

Tyrone looked to have assured themselves of a place in the last four when they led Down by a resounding 2-5 to 0-1 at half-time.

Goals from Darragh Canavan, son of Tyrone legend Peter, and Mark McKearney had thrust the home side into what was thought to be a very comfortable position but Down's resilience and competitive spirit were highlighted after the break.

Deegan's half-time pep talk certainly put fire in his side's bellies and when Conor Clarke, Declan McClements, Seamus Loughran and Tiarnan Quinn shared in a points blitz, Tyrone suddenly found themselves reined in.

And when Clarke potted Down's goal he certainly put the match back into the melting pot as Tyrone were forced further on to the back foot.

But skipper Ruairi Gormley stood up to the mark and produced a late point which helped his side claim their 'semi' berth.

Their opponents there Cavan have cause to be thankful to Tiarnan Reilly for the 59th goal which he plundered against Monaghan which put the side into a 1-13 to 2-4 lead after they had looked to be dicing with danger.

The free-taking of Patrick Lynch had helped to keep Cavan afloat for a spell but goals from Aaron Mohan and Sean Jones looked to have bolstered Monaghan.

Cavan had enjoyed a one-point interval lead (0-8 to 1-4) at half-time but it was not until Reilly thundered in his all-important goal that his side could afford to breathe more easily.

The Breffni side will face a much tougher challenge against Tyrone in the semi-finals in which surprise packet Fermanagh will face Derry.

Fermanagh came up trumps against Donegal in their quarter-final while Derry got the better of Armagh thus setting the scene for what promises to be a fascinating climax to the competition.

The Erne side will have senior players like Ultan Kelm and Johnny Cassidy as well as emerging stars such as Eoin Beacom and Dara McBrien on duty and the manner in which the side got the better of Donegal has already added an extra edge to the series.

Fermanagh have never won an Ulster senior title but they'll happily take an U20 accolade!

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