‘Under-rated’ Tyrone dig deep to book Premier date

Tyrone 0-17 Roscommon 0-12: TYRONE showed pace, power and panache when overcoming last year’s beaten finalists, Roscommon, in Saturday’s EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 semi-final at Sligo’s Markievicz Park.

Winning manager Feargal Logan hopes his charges’ stylish — and sometimes ruthless — five-point win, will earn them credit ahead of their upcoming All-Ireland clash with fellow surprise packets Tipperary, Tyrone’s first U-21 final since 2003.

Logan believes the Ulster champions were unfairly dismissed in the days leading up to the game with the majority of pundits anticipating the semi-finals would produce a rematch of the 2014 decider.

The Tyrone U21 boss said: “Those players were totally under-rated coming south to the point of absolute disrespect. We had newspapers that couldn’t even name a Tyrone player and we had Roscommon names to look at.”

“I’ve done a bit of giving out and I’ll have to stop because I will get pasted for that. We came here [Sligo] to do the business and that is what happened.”

If Tyrone were something of an unknown quantity before their north-west gig, then their impressive win — watched live by thousands on a sunny afternoon — will have put them in the spotlight.

In control throughout, Tyrone’s scorching start against the breeze meant they led 0-5 to 0-1 after 11 minutes and 0-10 to 0-7 at the break and their ability to absorb Roscommon’s pressure meant the deficit seemed too much for the Connacht champions to claw back.

Still, Logan was fearful of a sting in the tail — in the last five minutes Tyrone’s lead fluctuated between two and three points and a Roscommon goal, although unlikely, would have caught them cold.

“We felt that we controlled it but we just couldn’t get away from them until the end and that left us a sitting duck if they got a goal.

“We would have been heartbroken if they had managed a late goal but we held our nerve and did our business. For all our effort, it took everything in the end.”

It wasn’t just Tyrone’s typical traits that stood out — slick hand-passing, retention of possession, tough tacking and swift counter-attacks — this particular U21 team, who had just one point to spare in their Ulster final win over Donegal, is littered with outstanding performers.

Grade ‘A’ performances came from defenders Michael Cassidy and Kieran McGeary, midfielder Cathal McShane, attackers Mark Kavanagh, Lee Brennan and Daniel McNulty.

Exceptional midfielder Cathal McShane, who contributed 0-3, and top scorer Lee Brennan, who ghosted into scoring positions and fired five points from play, were excellent. So too Frank Burns, who oozed authority in a sweeper’s role.

Logan considers his side to be title-winning material — Tyrone last won this competition in 2001 and this was the county’s first All- Ireland semi-final since 2006.

He enthused: “We showed up in a big way against Roscommon. We have pace and power and we drive forward.

“Our economy of effort in front of the posts for our first six scores was excellent. I think we are a good side — but we have to play a top team [Tipperary]. But we are down to the last two in the country so I think if you get that far you are good enough to win an All-Ireland.”

Scorers for Tyrone: Lee Brennan (0-6, 1 free); Daniel McNulty (0-4, 3 frees); Cathal McShane (0-3); Mark Kavanagh (0-2); Michael Cassidy (0-1); Frank Burns (0-1)

Scorers for Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh (0-6, 4 frees); Cathal Compton (0-3); Ronan Daly (0-1, free); Jack Earley (0-1); Thomas Corcoran (0-1, 1 ‘45’)

TYRONE: S Fox, R Mullan, P Hampsey, M Cassidy, C McLaughlin, R Brennan, K McGeary, F Burns, C McShane, C Meyler, M Kavanagh, M Walsh, L Brennan, D McNulty, R McGlone.

Subs used: S McKenna for R McGlone (41); M Bradley for M Kavanagh (48); P McKenna for M Walsh (57); D Kavanagh for L Brennan (60+1)

ROSCOMMON: S Mannion, N McInerney, S Mullooly, D Barron, E McGrath, C Kenny, R Daly, C Compton, T O’Rourke, S Killoran, U Harney, K Kilcline, D Murtagh, E Smith, P Kenny

Subs used: N Kelly for S Mannion (29); T Corcoran for T O’Rourke (30+2); J Earley for K Kilcline (half-time); N Gately for P Kenny (40); K Finn for C Compton (59); D Neary for C Kenny (60)

Referee: Pádraig O’Sullivan (Kerry).

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