Monaghan 0-13 Tyrone 0-11
All-Ireland champions Tyrone were toppled by a hungry and tenacious Monaghan side in a gripping Ulster U21 Football Championship final at the Athletic Grounds.
The Farney men, managed by former Tyrone star Ciaran McBride, performed heroically in the second half to win a first title at this level since 1999, and only a third in the county’s history.
One of many key moments for the Farney men was a double save by goalkeeper Conor Forde, who came to his side’s rescue early on, twice denying Sean Fox.
Lee Brennan tormented the Monaghan defence throughout the opening half,, hitting a string of spectacular points, but Monaghan were always in touch, and Fearghal McMahon brought his side level in the ninth minute.
Cathal McShane and Brennan slotted over points to ease the Red Hands into a 0-3 to 0-2 lead by the 13th minute, but the holder were struggling to secure possession from their own kick-outs, and they were punished by Barry McGinn and Conor McCarthy, who shot two points in the space of 30 seconds.
But Brennan set the game alight with two wonderful scores, one of them sliced over from a sideline ball to nudge Tyron back in front.
Tyrone went two clear with another Brennan special, but McGinn landed another free to make it 0-6 each with five minutes of the half to play, but Monaghan suffered a blow when they lost one of their key defenders, captain Kevin Loughran received a black card.
Brennan’s fifth sent Tyrone in with a 0-7 to 0-6 lead, but their opponents hit a crucial spell of productivity in the opening stages of the second half, hitting three points in as many minutes to take a lead they never lost.
Monaghan’s controlled intensity helped them frustrate the champions time and again, with Mikey Murnaghan, Dessie Ward and James Mealiff performing heroically at the back.
Turnovers, tackles and interceptions saw them emerge time and again with possession, which they turned into scores, for McCaerthy and corner back Barry Kerr, who opened out a three points lead.
Tyrone pressed desperately in the closing stages, pulling back scores through McShane and David Mulgrew, and just a point separated the sides deep into stoppage time, when substitute Adam Treanor shot the insurance score.
Tyrone: S Fox, C McCann (0-01), M McKernan, S Hamill (0-01), C Byrne, F Burns, M O’Neill, C McShane (0-2, 1f), S Loughran, M Flanagan, M Kavanagh (0-01), D Mulgrew (0-01), L Brennan (0-05, 3f), R Coleman, S Fox.
Subs: D Gallagher for Coleman (h-t), S O’Donnell for McCann (39), R McGlone for O’Neill, B McDonnell for Flanagan, P McGirr for Byrne (60)
Monaghan: C Forde, B Kerr (0-01), M Murnaghan, K Loughran, D Ward, J Mealiff, N Rooney, N Loughman, A Lynch (0-01), R McAnespie, B McGinn (0-06, 5f), D Meegan, M O’Dowd, C McCarthy (0-03, 1f), F McMahon (0-01).
Subs: A Curran for Loughran (BC, 27), F Maguire for O’Dowd, B McBennett for McMahon, A Treanor (0-01) for Lynch (60)
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh).