Ulster Football Final: Tyrone hold on for dramatic 0-16 to 0-15 triumph over Monaghan

By John HaugheyBBC Sport NI at Croke Park
Darren McCurry and Michael McKernan celebrate after Tyrone's triumph
Darren McCurry and Michael McKernan were both among Tyrone's scorers at Croke Park

Tyrone held off Monaghan's second-half comeback to win a 16th Ulster Football title as the Red Hands edged a dramatic 0-16 to 0-15 win at Croke Park.

After looking in control at 0-11 to 0-6 up at half-time, Tyrone were rocked as Monaghan levelled by the 49th minute.

But Tyrone hit three straight points to lead 0-15 to 0-12 as Monaghan were held scoreless for almost 15 minutes.

Amid incredible excitement, Monaghan reduced Tyrone's lead to the minimum but the Red Hands somehow held on.

An extraordinary contest saw both goalkeepers spending much of the contest near the halfway line as they got involved in outfield action.

Most memorably near the end of the contest, Rory Beggan appeared set to be badly caught out as Mattie Donnelly charged towards an unguarded goal but the Monaghan keeper got back to dispossess the Tyrone full-forward.

Tyrone's win sets up an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Kerry who hammered six goals past them in the Division One Football semi-finals last month.

Joint-boss Logan missing from Tyrone dugout

The contest began with Tyrone's joint-manager Feargal Logan not alongside Brian Dooher on the sideline after apparently being forced to self-isolate because of a Covid-19 issue.

Players Frank Burns and Tiernan McCann were also unavailable for the Red Hands with Burns not part of the squad at all and McCann replaced by Mark Bradley after originally being named in the starting line-up.

However, the upheaval did not affect Tyrone in the first half as two points from the superb Donnelly helped them lead by one on three occasions early on before their 0-6 to 0-4 water break advantage was extended by 0-11 to 0-6 by half-time.

With Monaghan's tactic of pushing up on Niall Morgan's kickouts backfiring, Tyrone were able to break in behind in the Farney defence with Donnelly and late inclusion Conor McKenna especially prominent.

After Jack McCarron's 14th-minute point had drawn Monaghan level for a third occasion, scores from skipper Padraig Hampsey and Niall Sludden gave the Red Hands a two-point advantage that they maintained to the water break but it was in the second quarter that Tyrone cut loose.

The Red Hands responded to a Beggan free which cut their advantage to 0-6 to 0-5 as McKenna and then exquisitely McCurry lofted over scores to put them three up.

Goalkeeper Rory Beggan's outfield endeavours were a memorable feature of the gripping contest
Rory Beggan spent much of the second half near Monaghan's 65 line as he rallied his team-mates to produce a stirring comeback

A Conor McCarthy point briefly stopped the Tyrone onslaught before Donnelly's third point of the half and further efforts from Bradley and McCurry put the O'Neill County five up at the break.

After their sluggish and strangely inhibited first-half efforts, Monaghan looked in big trouble at the break but they responded magnificently and were within a kick of the ball of their opponents within two minutes of the restart after scores from McCarthy and Beggan.

Beggan was the central character on the field in the second half as his very presence around Monaghan's 65-metre line seemed to rally his team-mates.

While a McCurry free extended Tyrone's lead to four again, the force was with Monaghan as their extraordinary revival rattled the Red Hands.

Points from McManus and influential substitute Colin Walshe cut the margin to only two and by the 49th minute, the seemingly improbable had happened as Monaghan were on terms following further McManus and McCarron scores.

But then came a big moment as Monaghan botched a goal chance as Walshe's pass was too low for McCarthy who was unable to gather as the relieved Tyrone defence were able to clear.

Tyrone recover from third-quarter paralysis

The let-off seemed to stir Tyrone from a virtual paralysis that had gripped them since half-time with substitute Cathal McShane - who struggled badly with his handling after his introduction - restoring their lead on 51 minutes.

As the match reached the hour mark, veteran Peter Harte then slammed over a rare and vital point with his right foot before a softish free won by Donnelly was fully exploited by McCurry in the 62bnd minute.

To their credit, Monaghan kept fighting as they hit three of the last four scores with defenders Conor Boyle and Kieran Duffy on target before a McManus free left the minimum between the sides.

The closing minute of normal time saw the extraordinary moment which will become a viral video as the indefatigable Beggan somehow got back to dispossess Donnelly as he bore down on goal.

Niall Morgan's time wasting at a kickout in injury-time saw the ball been thrown up on the 21 by referee David Gough but the chance of a Monaghan leveller never really came as the relieved Red Hands held on.

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-2); K Duffy (0-1), C Boyle (0-1), R Wylie (capt); K O'Connell, D Ward, R McAnespie; D Hughes, K Lavelle (0-1); S O'Hanlon, A Mulligan, M Bannigan; C McCarthy (0-2), J McCarron (0-3), C McManus (0-5).

Subs: R Farrelly, K Hughes for O'Hanlon 54, K McMenamin, C Walshe for O'Connell half-time, S Carey for Mulligan 30, F Kelly, N Kearns for D Hughes half-time, D Wylie, A Woods for McCarthy 62

Not used: B McBennett, D Malone, R Farrelly, K McMenamin, F Kelly, D Wylie

Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan (0-1), R McNamee, P Hampsey (capt) (0-1), N Sludden (0-1), M Bradley (0-2), P Harte (0-1); B Kennedy, C Kilpatrick; K McGeary, M O'Neill, C Meyler; D McCurry (0-5), M Donnelly (0-3), C McKenna.

Subs: D Canavan for Kilpatrick 54, N Kelly for O'Neill, C McShane (0-1) for Kennedy 46, R O'Neill for Bradley 65, C Quinn

Not used: D McAnenly, J Munroe, M Conroy, P Donaghy, B McDonnell, HP McGeary, C Quinn

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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