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McManus late blitz sends Tyrone crashing out of Ulster

Tyrone 1-16 Monaghan 1-18

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone's reign as Ulster champions was brought to an end in a real throwback to the days of do-or-die in Omagh, as a sensational late push from Monaghan reflected their overall control of the game.

And when the pressure was greatest, Monaghan captain Conor McManus edged his side four points clear in the first minute of time added on with a remarkable point, hit on the corner of the 45 metre line and the right sideline that curled beautifully over Niall Morgan's crossbar at the Gortin Road end.

That effort might even have been shaded by a Dessie Mone effort, the 33-year-old giving Michael McKernan - 13 years his junior - the slip along the endline and arrowing over with only a sliver of the posts to tempt him to maintain a gap of a goal midway through the second half.

Talking about Mone, and goalscorer Vinny Corey's influence after, Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke said, "Just looking in the changing room beforehand, you feel that they have been through this so many times and they can keep their heads and pick up the right positions. Keep other fellas calm as well. They are very valuable to us and hopefully we can keep them injury-free for another while."

Tyrone looked for all the world like they were running on fumes.

Only a late goal from Michael McKernan, who fisted in a Frank Burns floated '45', took the bad look of the scoreline.

As the first half wore on, wear and tear crept in. Mark Bradley had an ankle complaint and was off before 20 minutes elapsed.

Colm Cavanagh and Tiernan McCann have been two of their most crucial players over the last two seasons and both carried injuries into this, and had to be withdrawn, in Cavanagh's case at half-time.

Ronan O'Neill was sent on, didn't function and was whipped off as Harte put Cathal McShane close to goal.

Much has been made of Stephen O'Neill's addition to the coaching squad for Tyrone but you wonder if he is a relic of a different time when forwards played a very different game to the one we have today. Tyrone's full-forward line only got three points from play here.

Overall, their big names never showed. Peter Harte had a miserable day, capped by a late red card and Niall Sludden was dealt with by Mone.

As expected, the two sides produced no real tactical rabbits out of the hat. It was interesting to observe that when they could put a free-kick dead, both aped Dublin's pressing of the Tyrone kickout in last August's All-Ireland semi-final.

Match-ups wise, Monaghan probably fared out better, with Mone's job on Sludden, Ryan Wylie quieting Mark Bradley and then Ronan O'Neill and Kieran Duffy holding Lee Brennan scoreless from play.

Meanwhile, Jack McCarron burned through three markers in Cathal McCarron, Hugh Pat McGeary and Michael McKernan while Ronan McNamee was tortured by Conor McManus in the final quarter.

The suspicion was that it would come down to a test of free-taking. An interesting development during the week came when it emerged that Monaghan's long-range kicker, goalkeeper Rory Beggan, was able to gain access to this ground towards the end of last week.

He was there in his role as goalkeeping coach for the minor side, but this was a mere smokescreen for the Scotstown man to get a few sightings at the posts. Going against the wind he potted two frees outside the 45 metre line and in the second, aided by the breeze he floated over two '45s'. However, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte had no problem with this, stating, "It doesn't matter what day he does it and what day he practises it. It's the day of the game that matters.

"He is doing this for a good while now, he is doing it in various grounds around the country and I have no issue with that at all and it is a credit to the capacity he has that he can hit those long frees consistently. It's a serious weapon to have in their team because there's four points that you might normally expect to get one of them if you are lucky, especially the distance you are kicking them from."

The game was ambling along with Tyrone controlling affairs until the third minute of added-on time of the first half. 35-year-old Vinny Corey skirted around the fringes of the Tyrone defence, exchanging hand-passes with Conor McManus (right) before spotting Darren Hughes in space close to goal. He transferred to Hughes, continued his run and slid his shot under Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan to put Monaghan in the lead for the first time. Three minutes later that lead went to the interval break as Monaghan 1-7 Tyrone 0-8 when full-back Drew Wylie got up and angled a superb shot over to the roar of his support.

In the second half Monaghan opened up and produced some magnificent football, one flowing movement yielding a point on the turn for Ryan McAnespie, and they hit the post through Karl O'Connell, the ball being tipped onto it and Beggan converting the resultant '45.'

With five minutes to go, two Connor McAliskey frees brought Tyrone level, but Monaghan landed the next five points through two McManus frees, one from under the stand, substitute Colin Walshe, and two exceptional scores from McManus from play.

In the crowd of 15,029, Tyrone just could not make that final play count, and Monaghan's veterans in Corry, Mone, McManus and the Hughes brothers made all the important plays.

Tyrone now have to make serious hard yards to get to the Super 8s. Monaghan will have familiar opponents in neighbours Fermanagh in the semi-final.

Judging by Saturday evening's game, it could be a feisty enough encounter between old Fermanagh team mates Malachy O'Rourke and Rory Gallagher.

TYRONE: N Morgan; P Hampsey 0-1, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, F Burns, P Harte 0-1; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly 0-1; C McShane 0-1, N Sludden 0-2, C Meyler; L Brennan 0-3f, C McAliskey 0-6, 3f, M Bradley

Subs: R O'Neill for Bradley (19m), D McClure for Cavanagh (HT), M McKernan 1-1 for McCarron (40m), HP McGeary for T McCann (53m), K McGeary for Brennan (55m), C McCann for O'Neill (62m)

MONAGHAN: R Beggan 0-4, 2f, 2x'45'; D Mone 0-1, D Wylie 0-1, R Wylie; K Duffy, V Corey 1-0, K O'Connell; N Kearns, D Hughes; F Kelly 0-1, J McCarron 0-1, D Ward; R McAnespie 0-1, K Hughes, C McManus 0-6, 4f

Subs: C McCarthy 0-1 for Ward (42m), O Duffy for McCarron (61m), C Walshe 0-1 for Money (64m)

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)

Attendance: 15,029

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