Tyrone weather Cork comeback to take Minor title

Tyrone 1-13 Cork 1-12

Tyrone survived a rousing Cork comeback to win a thrilling all-Ireland MFC final by a single point this afternoon.

The Red Hands led by eight points at two different stages of a memorable decider, but saw the advantage trimmed back to a single point in the gripping closing stages.

In the end, the Tyrone lads held their nerve to hold on for an eighth minor title and a third in three seasons.

Harry Og Conlon’s first half goal set them up for a big lead, but Kevin Hallissey sparked the Rebel revival with a goal five minutes from the end, and a thrilling finish saw the Munster lads just fall short.

All three of Tyrone’s half backs scored in the first half, with Niall Sludden starting the scoreboard ticking with a forth minute score.

The Ulster champions dominated the opening 20 minutes, racing into an eight points lead with the help of Conlon’s goal.

Two points from busy full forward John McCullagh underlined the Red Hands’ superiority in those opening stages, Cork struggled to get a foothold in the game, and while defenders Kevin Fulignati and Conor O’Sullivan were always willing to press forward, they lacked a cutting edge up front.

Tyrone added another couple of scores through wing back Eunan Deeney and Thomas Canavan, from a free.

Top scorer Ronan O’Neill was being well held by Tomas Clancy, but produced a superb pass for midfielder Conlon to net at the second attempt, finishing from close range after his initial punched effort was kept out by David Hanrahan.

Cork responded positively, and their first score of the game came in the 21st minute from a Brian Hurley free.

They reeled off five on the spin to get themselves back in contention, with Damian Cahalane and Jamie Burns starting to make an impact at midfield.

The Munster lads closed the gap with two more Hurley frees, along with points from Dan McEoin and Kevin Hallisey.

Tyrone managed to stem the tide late in the half, and when Michael Donaghy got on the end of an O’Neill pass to slot a point, all three of the Red Hand half backs had scored.

Tyrone led by 1-6 to 0-5 at half-time, and stretched the advantage through McCullagh and O’Neil immediately after the restart.

But once again, Cork hit back with scores from McEoin and John O’Rourke, who finished off a surging run from Cahalane.

That, in turn, sparked another Tyrone flourish, with wonderful scores from McCullagh and Conan Grugan making it 1-11 to 0-7 at the beginning of the final quarter.

Conor Clarke and Hugh Pat McGeary kept things tight at the back, and midfielder Grugan added another for an eight points lead.

But there was yet another gear in a Cork team which was simply not prepared to admit defeat.

Luke O’Connolly’s diagonal ball was picked up by Hurley, who slipped it inside for Hallissey to send a low angled shot to the corner of the net.

The excellent McEoin brought his points tally to six, all from play, but the Red Hands held out for the narrowest of victories.

Tyrone: C Spiers, S McGarrity, C Clarke, HP McGeary, N Sludden (0-1), M Donaghy (0-1), E Deeney (0-1), H Og Conlon (1-0), C Grugan (0-2), R Donnelly, T Canavan (0-1,f), R Devlin (0-1), S Tierney, J McCullagh (0-4), R O’Neill (0-2, 1f).

Subs: P McNulty for Donaghy, L Girvan for Devlin, D Donnelly for Tierney.

Cork: D Hanrahan, K Fulignati, M O’Shea, A Cronin, C O’Sullivan, T Clancy, J Wall, J Burns, D Cahalane, J O’Rourke (0-2), M Sugrue, D McEoin (0-6), K Hallissey (1-1), T Hegarty, B Hurley (0-3, 3f).

Subs: D Fitzgerald for Hegarty, L O’Conolly for Sugrue, D O’Donovan for Fulignati, K Sheehan for O’Rourke.

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).

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