Tyrone hold off Roscommon surge to progress to U21 Football final

Tyrone 0-17 Roscommon 0-12

Tyrone reached their first All-Ireland U21 Football Championship final since 2003 with a hard-working win over Roscommon, embroidered by the grace of ace finisher Lee Brennan.

The Trillick attacker shot six points, five of them delightful efforts from play as the Red Hands carved out a five points success at Markievicz Park to set up a meeting with Tipperary in the decider.

The Ulster champions had to hold out in the face of a late Rossies revival, but defended stoically before breaking away to kill the game off with a volley of scores.

Tyrone raced into a three points lead, with Lee Brennan hitting the target twice, and midfielder Cathal McShane also on target inside the opening five minutes.

Corner back Michael Cassidy added an excellent point from a difficult angle for a 0-4 to 0-0 advantage.

Roscommon finally opened their account in the tenth minute when Diarmuid Murtagh landed a 43 metre free, but that was instantly cancelled out by a superb score from Mark Kavanagh.

Midfielder Cathal Compton brought Rosocmmon very much into the picture with two points, one a superb effort sliced between the posts from long range, the second a gift from goalkeeper Sean Fox’s poor clearance.

Holding possession and building patiently from the back, the Red Hands restored their three points cushion when Danny McNulty did the spade-work for McShane to land his second.

But the Connacht champions stepped up the tempo, with Murtagh and Ronan Daly both converting frees, and the excellent Compton registering his third, another exceptional effort.

The Red Hands finished strongly with points from Brennan and Danny McNulty, with their first converted free, to take a 0-10 to 0-7 lead into the break.

Brennan and Murtagh traded points early in the second half, and both sides had difficulty in breaking down packed defences in a spell of stalemate.

Roscommon sub Thomas Corcoran drilled a ’45 between the posts, but the Ulster champions countered for the brilliant Brennan to fire over his fifth point.

And when McNulty and Murtagh swapped points, the sides were still separated by three going into the final quarter.

Michael Cassidy had his second goal attempt blocked down by Ronan Daly, but it was Roscommon who turned up the tempo as they went desperately in search of scores.

However, they ran into solid Tyrone defending led by Padraig Hampsey, Frank Burns and Kieran McGeary, and had to work hard to get back on track with points from Jack Earley and Murtagh.

But after surviving a spell of intense pressure, the Red Hands broke away to kill the game off with late scores from Brennan, Burns and McNulty.

Tyrone: S Fox, R Mullan, P Hampsey, M Cassidy (0-1), C McLaughlin, R Brennan, K McGeary, F Burns (0-1), C McShane (0-3), C Meyler, M Kavanagh (0-2), M Walsh, L Brennan (0-6, 1f), D McNulty (0-4, 3f), R McGlone.

Subs: S McKenna for McGlone (39), M Bradley for Kavanagh (44), P McKenna for Walsh (56), D Kavanagh for L Brennan (70)

Roscommon: S Mannion, N McInerney, S Mullooly, D Barron, E McGrath, C Kenny, R Daly (0-1, f), C Compton (0-3), T O’Rourke, S Killoran, U Harney, K Kilcline, D Murtagh (0-6 (4f), E Smith, P Kenny.

Subs; N Kelly for Mannion (29), T Corcoran (0-1, ’45) for O’Rourke (32), J Earley (0-1) for Kilcline (h-t), N Gately for Kenny (39), K Finn for Compton (58), D Neary for Kenny (59)

Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).

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