Tyrone squeeze past Monaghan with Casey goal proving crucial
Tyrone 2-11 Monaghan 0-16
Tyrone edged a one-point win away to Monaghan in their Nicky Rackard Cup opening round derby at Castleblayney on Saturday.
Second half goals by Damian Casey and substitute Sean Og Grogan and a penalty save by Conor McElhatton proved to be the decisive moments as a Justin Kelly-inspired Tyrone advanced to a clash with another local rival, Donegal.
Monaghan were first off the mark through the prolific Dónal Meegan, who would finish with 0-10, and although Conor Grogan replied, points from Meegan and Conor Boyle gave the hosts an early advantage.
The last four points of the half were all by Donal Meegan, who converted three frees as well as landing a score from play to send Monaghan in 0-7 to 0-5 ahead.
Peter Treanor put three between the teams after the restart and although Kelly replied, a brace from Fergal Rafter extended Monaghan's lead further. A point by Tyrone sub Peadar Daly was cancelled out by Donal Meegan, before Damien Casey diverted a Dermot Begley free home for the crucial opening goal.
Kelly hit the equalising point and even after Meegan edged Monaghan ahead once more, Tyrone sub Sean Og Grogan got his side's second goal after keeper Patrick Bermingham had been dispossessed. Kelly and Casey added points for Tyrone, but a Meegan brace and a Brian McGuigan point brought Monaghan back within one.
They had a chance to retake the initiative when Sean Leonard won a penalty, but Boyle was denied by Tyrone keeper Conor McElhatton. Devlin scored again from distance to double Tyrone's lead late on and although Colm Meegan hit the last point, Mattie Lennon's charges held on.
Monaghan: C Boyle (0-1), P Treanor (0-1), C Meegan (0-1); F Rafter (0-2), B McGuigan (0-1), D Meegan (0-10, 8f).
Tyrone: L Devlin (0-2), J Kelly (0-4), C Grogan (0-1), R McKernan (0-1), D Casey (1-2, 0-1). Subs: P Daly (0-1) for McKernan, S Óg Grogan (1-0) for O'Kelly.
Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).