Shamrock Cup Under-21 Football Final
Tyrone 2-12 Monaghan 0-10 23/2/11
Monaghan’s attempt to retain the Shamrock Cup ended with an eight-point defeat to Tyrone in Wednesday night’s final in Emyvale. A strong Tyrone team, backboned by the All-Ireland minor-winning side from 2008, led by nine points at half-time, largely thanks to goals by Niall McKenna and Diarmuid McNulty, and Monaghan never looked like bridging the gap despite their best efforts in the second half. All six forwards scored from play for Tyrone, who had impressive performances from Peter Harte, McKenna, Ronan O’Neill, Ryan Pickering and Paddy McNiece, while Kieran Duffy, Daniel McKenna and Christopher McGuinness led Monaghan’s challenge.
Tyrone started as they meant to go on with a point from a 25-metre free by Ronan O’Neill after a foul on Mattie Donnelly, followed by a well-taken point with the outside of the boot by John McCullagh. Kevin Mooney got Monaghan off the mark after good work by Owen Coyle and Daniel McKenna, but O’Neill responded with a good point from play and a 20-metre free, after a foul on Paddy McNiece. Tyrone doubled their lead to six points on 16 minutes when Diarmuid McNulty and McCullagh combined to set-up Niall McKenna for the game’s opening goal. Peter Harte linked up with O’Neill to add another point, before Daniel McKenna ended 12 scoreless minutes for Monaghan from a 25-metre free after a foul on David Millar. Christopher McGuinness won and scored a free to give Monaghan hope, but a great point from distance by Harte kept Tyrone in control and they struck for a killer second goal when McNiece and Donnelly linked up to put McNulty through to fire home. That was enough to give Tyrone a comfortable 2-6 to 0-3 lead at half-time.
McGuinness got the first point of the second half after he made a good catch from a free by substitute Jack McCarron, before Daniel McKenna hit a fine score from play. Tyrone hit back, though, with a 20-metre free by O’Neill, after a foul on McNiece, and a point from play by Donnelly. A foul on Donnelly allowed McNiece to add a point from a 30-metre free, but McCarron converted a brace of 20-metre frees for fouls on Daniel McKenna and Keith McEnaney, before Kieran Duffy broke forward from corner-back to kick a good point. Harte’s third point kept Tyrone in command, while Monaghan had a chance to get back into it, but McGuinness sent a goal-chance narrowly wide after he had been put through by Millar. McNiece took a pass from Niall McKenna to become the sixth Tyrone forward to score from play, before McCullagh tapped over a 13-metre free for a foul on McNiece. Frees by Daniel McKenna and McCarron, after fouls on McKenna and McGuinness, brought Monaghan into double-figures on the scoreboard, but Tyrone had the win wrapped up long before then. Both teams begin their Ulster Under-21 FC campaigns on March 16, when Monaghan will play the winners of the preliminary-round game between Derry and Armagh, while Tyrone take on Down.
Tyrone: N Morgan; F McQuaid, S Warnock, M Slane; K Mossey, R Pickering, S McKenna; N McKenna (1-0), R Keenan; D McNulty (1-0), P Harte (Capt., 0-3), P McNiece (0-2, 1f); R O‘Neill (0-4, 3f), J McCullagh (0-2, 1f), M Donnelly (0-1).
Subs: N Gavin for O’Neill (46 mins), R McNamee for Keenan (49), S McGuigan for Mossey, C Daly for Donnelly (both 52), A McCarney for McNiece (56).
Monaghan: R Beggan; K Duffy (0-1), F Kelly, O Coyle; R Courtney, C Walshe, S Dooney; P O’Hara, P O’Hanlon; P Boyle, D Malone (Capt.), K Mooney (0-1); D Millar, C McGuinness (0-2, 1f), D McKenna (0-3, 2f).
Subs: K McEnaney for Coyle (30), J McCarron (0-3f) for Courtney (H-T), M Hanratty for Boyle (39), S McElroy for Mooney (45), A Óg McAnespie for Kelly (58).
Referee: L Smyth (Down).