Tyrone power past Down in second replay

IT took almost four hours of energy-sapping action to separate them, but Tyrone finally triumphed to qualify for the Ulster U21 Football Championship semi-finals.

Victory in last night’s second replay at the Athletic Grounds earned the Red Hands a last four clash with Monaghan next week.

The Red Hands found themselves six points behind early in the second quarter, but a Ronan O’Neill goal sparked a spectacular fightback and they turned on the style in the second half to win with plenty to spare.

After centre back Gerard McAtamney had opened the scoring for the Mourne men, they forged ahead with another defender, Paddy Boyle adding a point.

Devlin and Anton McArdle were also on target to increase the pressure on a Tyrone side that managed just one point in the opening quarter, a Ronan O’Neill free.

Down struck for a goal in the 18th minute, Devlin applying a classy finish past Niall Morgan, And when Savage steered over a wonderful point, Down led by six points, 1-5 to 0-2, and looked capable of pushing on for a comfortable victory.

But Tyrone shot 1-4 on the spin in the space of six minutes to go ahead, with O’Neill grabbing the 25th minute goal. Girvan’s long ball was collected by Michael Higgins, but he lost possession under pressure from Mattie Donnelly, and teenager O’Neill netted from five yards.

Points from O’Neill, Paddy McNeice and Niall Sludden edged the Red Hands ahead, but the sides went in level at 1-6 each, after Ryan Brady had swung over a Down point.

Once Tyrone got the wind in their backs, they started to run confidently at the Down defence, and superb scores from Kyle Coney and Peter Harte had them a couple of points to the good.

Shea McGuigan, Ryan Pickering and Sludden made vital incisions as the Down men were forced onto the back foot, and O’Neill’s accuracy from frees pushed the Red Hands further into the comfort zone.

Paddy McNeice swung over a couple of placed balls, as the gap grew to six, with 10 minutes to play. Down had gone 22 minutes without a score when Devlin knocked over a 56th minute free, but their late flourish fell short.

Tyrone scorers: R O’Neill 1-6 (0-6f), P McNeice 0-3 (3f), K Coney 0-2, N Sludden, P Harte, M Donnelly, N McKenna 0-1 each.

Down scorers: P Devlin 1-3 (0-2f), D Savage, R Brady, P McPolin, B O’Reilly (f), A McArdle, G McAnulty, P Boyle 0-1 each.

TYRONE: N Morgan, R Pickering, R McNamee, F McQuaid, N Sludden, G Teague, S McKenna, N McKenna, R Donnelly, P McNeice, P Harte, S McGuigan, K Coney M Donnelly, R O’Neill.

Subs: C Girvan for Teague, T McCann for S McKenna, J McCullagh for Girvan, S Warnock for R Donnelly.

DOWN: C Heaney, A Brannigan, M Higgins, K Quinn, P Boyle, G McAnulty, D McKibben, A McArdle, C Poland, B O’Reilly, P McPolin, P Devlin, D Savage, C Harrison, R Brady.

Subs: C Clarke for Brady, N McParland for McAnulty, Ryan O’Hare for Harrison, Donal O’Hare for Savage, A McConville for O’Reilly

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).

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