Ulster Minor Hurling League Division Two Final
Monaghan 1-8 Tyrone 2-4 8/4/12
Monaghan won the Ulster Minor Hurling League Division Two title for the first time after a heart-stopping finish in the final against Tyrone on Sunday. Monaghan were a vastly superior team for most of this match and they recovered from a slow start to lead almost all the way, but they missed a series of chances to leave the game still within the reach of Tyrone, who rallied late on to go close to snatching an unlikely win. Frank Brady’s side may have been hanging on at the death, but neither he nor his players will mind as this was all about getting over the line. Donal Meegan, Niall Garland, Jamie Guinan, Raymond and Cormac McNally and Liam Savage shone for Monaghan, while Brian McGurk, Ruairí and Caolán Devlin and Ciarán McCrudden led the way for Tyrone, who finished with 14 men.
Tyrone got off to a flying start and they took the lead with a second-minute goal by Caolán Devlin, followed by a point from a 30-metre free by Duibhir Marshall after he had been fouled. Niall Garland got Monaghan off the mark when he angled over a free from the right wing following a foul on Donal Meegan and they got a lucky break on 13 minutes when Jamie Guinan’s attempt at a point from a ’65 dropped into the Tyrone net. Monaghan missed a series of chances to take the lead, but they eventually pushed ahead when Niall Garland punished a poor puck-out from Tyrone keeper Conan Gilmore, before Raymond McNally linked up with Gareth Keenan to double Monaghan’s lead. Kevin Duffy had a chance to score Monaghan’s second goal in first-half injury-time, but his shot was saved by Gilmore after he got on the end of a long-range free from Guinan. That left Monaghan leading by 1-3 to 1-1 at half-time.
Garland converted a 50-metre free for a foul on Gareth Keenan to get Monaghan off to a good start in the second half, but he missed a good chance from a free to increase the lead further and Brian McGurk got a point from play back for Tyrone. Tyrone were reduced to 14 men 20 minutes from time when Marshall was shown a second yellow card and Monaghan looked poised to push clear when Meegan finished off good work by Keenan and Garland with a fine point. Ciarán McCrudden tapped over a 20-metre free for Tyrone after a foul on Matthew Mulgrew, but Meegan replied with a great score at the end of a jinking run. Guinan sent over a free following a foul on Garland to open up a four-point gap. Tyrone got right back into it when Ruairí Devlin forced the sliotar home at the end of a goalmouth scramble, but Aodh Curran arced over a fine point from well out to restore a two-point lead for Monaghan. McCrudden closed the gap to a point, but he missed a couple of chances in the closing stages, as he fired one shot off the post before slicing another effort wide. Tyrone continued to press for an equaliser, but Monaghan stood firm with some heroic defending securing a history-making victory.
Monaghan: N Butler; N Flood, C McNally (Capt.), C McAnespie; R McNally (0-1), J Guinan (1-1, 1-0 ’65, 0-1f), C Boyle; N Garland (0-3, 2f), L Savage; D Meegan (0-2), G Keenan, T Forde; B McQuaid, A Curran (0-1), K Duffy.
Subs: M O’Dowd for Duffy (40 mins), K Crawley for Keenan (55), G Brennan for McQuaid (59).
Tyrone: C Gilmore; K Gormley, R Devlin, K Hughes; T Hughes, E Duffin, P O’Neill; A O’Neill, M Monnelly; R McKernan (0-1), B McGurk, D Marshall (0-1); C McCrudden, M Mulgrew, C Devlin (0-4, 3f).
Subs: G McNamee for T Hughes (22), M McRory for P O’Neill (33)
Referee: J Clarke (Cavan).