Dogged Tyrone bite back

Tyrone 1-12 Roscommon 0-13

Dogged Tyrone bite back

Ranked 2/1 outsiders as a result of losing the Ulster final, and having required extra-time to scrape by Kerry in the quarter-finals, they also trailed for around 50minutes of this game.

But once they finally got a sniff of victory and moved into a winning position with just four minutes to go, they stubbornly stayed there.

Roscommon, back under the guidance of 2006 All-Ireland-winning minor boss Fergal O’Donnell, will kick themselves. They missed an early penalty and, throughout a poor first half, a case can be made for them kicking away 1-10 — Diarmuid McGann’s wasted fourth minute spot kick the pick of the bunch.

But it was stirring stuff all the same from Tyrone, whose sheer refusal to accept defeat was summed up in the performance of match-winner Conor McKenna. He finished with 1-4 and his brilliant 39th-minute goal was what separated the teams. But, up to then, there was as much rust as actual reward in his finishing.

He shook off a couple of wides and early misses to net that goal, beautifully striking to the top right corner, and he added two crucial points in the closing minutes to seal an unlikely victory.

“I’ve seen him play an awful lot better,” said Tyrone manager Mickey Donnelly of McKenna. “Maybe that’s a reflection of how good he is. He’s a great lad, comes from great Tyrone people, his brother played for Tyrone here last weekend. But Conor, I know he can play better than that. He dogged his way through it — like the team — kept his head down and we got the result.”

Tyrone haven’t lost an All-Ireland minor semi-final in their last seven attempts and secures them a shot at Connacht champions Mayo on September 22.

“Obviously the penalty you’d be disappointed with missing — when you get goal chances you have to take them,” said Roscommon manager O’Donnell. “Look, simple ball, we gave it away [in the second half] and lost possession and, ultimately, that’s what cost us. A lot of our ball was turned over and it wasn’t under a whole lot of pressure.”

Roscommon came into the tie as strong favourites and duly led by double scores at half-time, 0-6 to 0-3. But the three-point advantage scarcely reflected their dominance.

They missed two good goal opportunities, including the penalty when McGann’s low shot was expertly palmed out by Sean Fox. And while Tadhg O’Rourke and Henry Walsh both shot excellent points they were also guilty of booting away several more opportunities.

It allowed Tyrone to stay in a game that could have been almost beyond them by half-time.

Tyrone didn’t help themselves by deploying Frank Burns as a sweeper, which Roscommon were generally able to bypass. Burns’ move back into attack in the second half was part of the reason for Tyrone’s improvement.

Donnelly’s northerners only shot two points from open play in the first half.

And one of those, McKenna’s 19th-minute curling effort, was initially ruled out only to be given by Hawk-Eye.

That left the sides level, 0-3 to 0-3, though the Rossies booted the last three points of the first half, moving into that 0-6 to 0-3 interval lead. But they were never quite able to shake Tyrone off and McKenna’s 39th-minute goal, which levelled the game up again, indicated the difficulties Roscommon would encounter.

The beaten Connacht finalists forged two clear again, but captain Ronan Daly’s 51st-minute fisted effort off the post — their only wide of the half — came at a bad time.

It would have put Roscommon three clear with 10 minutes remaining. Instead, Tyrone went up the other end and booted three points in a row that put them ahead for the first time. The teams would be level once more but late scores from McKenna and Christopher Morris, the latter coming from a goal-line clearance at their own end, sealed an impressive comeback win.

Scorers for Tyrone: C McKenna 1-4, (0-1 45), L Brennan 0-3, P Donnelly, C McShane, S McGrath, T Donnelly (1f) and C Morris 0-1 each.

Scorers for Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-4 (3f), D McGann 0-3, (3f), R Daly 0-2, T O’Rourke, H Walsh, U Harney and C Compton 0-1 each.

TYRONE: S Fox; C Morris, R Quinn, C McCann; C Byrne, S Hamill, P McGirr; C McKenna, R Nugent; D Gallagher, P Donnelly, R McGlone; L Brennan, F Burns, S McGrath.

Subs: D Mulgrew for Gallagher (39), C McShane for P Donnelly (39), T Donnelly for McGlone (53), K Coney for Byrne (59), M Lynn for McGirr (60).

ROSCOMMON: S Mannion; S Mullooly, D Neary, M Flannery; E McGrath, R Daly, E Fallon; C Compton, T O’Rourke; S Farrell, U Harney, J Earley; H Walsh, D McGann, D Murtagh.

Sub: M Murtagh for Earley (52).

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).

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