Shamrock Cup Under-21 Football Final
Tyrone 3-11 Monaghan 1-11 29/2/12
Monaghan’s Under-21 footballers lost to Tyrone in the Shamrock Cup Final for the second year in a row at a windswept Cloghan on Wednesday evening. An entertaining game produced an abundance of scores – all but one point of which came from play – but Monaghan were never quite able to recover from conceding two goals in quick succession at the end of the opening quarter. Goals by Shay McGuigan, Eunan Deeney and Harry Óg Conlon were the key scores for Tyrone as they retained the Cremartin-run competition. Conlon, McGuigan, Conor Clarke, Rónán O’Neill and Barry Tierney played key roles for Tyrone, while Keith McEnaney, Pete Dooney, Owen Coyle and Peter O’Hanlon were best for Monaghan, who were boosted by the return from injury of full-back Kieran Duffy.
Tyrone opened the scoring through Shea McGuigan in the first minute, but Monaghan quickly drew level with a point from Shane Coyle after he had played a one-two with Thomas Kerr. Conor Clarke charged through the Monaghan defence from centre-back to fist over, but Seán Sheridan linked up with Johnny McGuigan to equalise for Monaghan, who took the lead for the first time when Keith McEnaney tapped over at the end of a well-worked move involving Pete Dooney and Peter O’Hanlon. McGuigan hit back with his second point for Tyrone, who needed their goalkeeper Darragh McAnenly to come to their rescue by saving from Shane Coyle after a Keith McEnaney effort dropped short.
Coyle restored Monaghan’s lead after good approach play by Conor Boyle, Dooney and Daniel McKenna, but Tyrone took charge by rattling in 2-2 in less than five minutes. Clarke started the run with a spectacular point from distance and Eunan Deeney added the opening goal after a Jonathan Munroe shot had been blocked by Owen Coyle. McGuigan beat Monaghan keeper Rory Beggan to a dangerous free from Munroe to punch to the net a minute later, before Caolán Daly took a pass from Rónán O’Neill to add a point. Monaghan responded with their own burst of 1-2, the first point coming from McEnaney after he got on the end of a Dooney free.
Sheridan latched onto a clever pass from Kerr to drill home on 23 minutes and Kerr scored the next point from a 35-metre free after a foul on Damien McArdle. O’Neill and Harry Óg Conlon combined to create a point for Peter Mallon, but Daniel McKenna replied for Monaghan at the end of a move started by a great block by Dooney. O’Neill had the last say of the half, though, as he opened his personal account to make it 2-7 to 1-7 in favour of Tyrone.
Daly kicked the first point of the second half and he would have added a goal in the ninth minute when he was put through by Munroe but for a good save by Beggan. The visitors didn’t have long to wait for their third major, though, as Conlon cracked an emphatic finish past Beggan after he had been released by Barry Tierney. McArdle got a good point back for Monaghan, but Tyrone substitute Conor McAliskey split the posts with his first touch to keep the Red Hands in control.
Monaghan reduced the gap with well-taken points by Dooney and McKenna, both set up by Sheridan, and a fine solo effort by McEnaney, following a pass from Johnny McGuigan, only for Tyrone to seal victory with a couple of points deep into injury-time. Mallon got the first of those after he had been well-placed by a free from O’Neill, who produced a fine finish after good work by Daly and Shay McGuigan to round off the scoring. Monaghan now have three weeks to prepare for their Ulster Under-21 Football Championship first-round game away to Derry, while Tyrone are out a week earlier against Fermanagh in the preliminary round.
Tyrone: D McAnenly; B Tierney, D McNally, HP McGeary; E Deeney (1-0), C Clarke (0-2), R Henry; P McNulty, H Óg Conlon (1-0); P Mallon (0-2), J Munroe, S McGuigan (1-2); A McCarney, C Daly (0-2), R O’Neill (0-2).
Subs: T McCann for Henry, N Sludden for Deeney (both H-T), C McAliskey (0-1) for McCarney (47 mins), S Warnock for Clarke (inj., 50), B McGarvey for Tierney (inj., 56).
Monaghan: R Beggan; C Boyle, K Duffy, O Coyle; R Courtney, J McGuigan, D McArdle (0-1); P Dooney (0-1), S Sherry; S Sheridan (1-1), T Kerr (0-1f), P O’Hanlon; S Coyle (0-2), K McEnaney (0-3), D McKenna (0-2).
Subs: S Carey for S Coyle, B McElroy for Kerr (both 47), C McEnaney for Courtney (54).
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).