By Eoghan Cormican, Parnell Park
Tyrone 1-11 Tipperary 0-13
Tyrone withstood a barrage of late Tipperary pressure to secure the county’s fifth All-Ireland U21 football title this evening.
Tyrone held a three point lead approaching the finish, but two superb Colin O’Riordan points reduced the deficit entering the four-minutes of injury-time allotted.
O’Riordan’s attempted equaliser dropped short and although Kevin O’Halloran flicked possession goal bound, Tyrone ‘keeper Sean Fox safely gathered the leather.
The start of the second-half was delayed by almost twenty-five minutes as ambulance services attended to two supporters in the main stand. Both team doctors were seen running across the field with defibrillators to treat the respective individuals.
Tyrone were a far fresher force upon the resumption and tied matters through Mark Kavanagh and Lee Brennan (free).
O’Halloran and Josh Keane – both placed ball efforts - responded for Tommy Toomey charges, but just as Tyrone had struggled with the slight breeze in the first-half, the Tipperary forwards kicked a succession of bad wides. Kevin O'Halloran kicked two run-of-the-mill frees wide and they would prove crucial.
Daniel McNulty landed a difficult free subsequently and Tyrone hit the front when Cathal McShane, put through by Mark Kavanagh, blasted to the net on 49 minutes. While pushed all the way to the line, their more balanced team were deserving of the spoils. Michael Cassidy's late sending-off failed to dampen their celebrations.
While the Parnell Park surface held up relatively well given the constant fall of rain, greasy conditions permitted the open, free-flowing fare that had advanced both teams to the decider.
The elements favoured Tyrone in the opening period and yet it was opponents Tipperary who returned to the dressing room at the interval 0-7 to 0-5 in front.
Tyrone full-forward Daniel McNulty was deployed as a third midfielder to curb the influence of Tipperary pair Colin O’Riordan and Steven O’Brien, the latter somewhat subdued in the opening thirty minutes.
Fergal Logan’s charges kicked 10 first-half wides, half of that tally arriving inside the opening nine minutes.
Kevin O’Halloran and Ian Fahey moved Tipperary in front, their efforts cancelled out by Conor Meyler and the lively Colm Byrne.
Josh Keane and Byrne traded white flags in the ensuing passages of play, O’Halloran and Keane re-establishing Tipp’s two-point cushion thereafter.
Tyrone’s wide count continued to rise as the half wore on, Cathal McShane and Daniel McNulty guilty of kicking an array of wayward shots. The Tyrone half-forward line were enjoying the upper hand in their battle with Ross Mulcahy, Luke Boland and Liam Casey, but were left frustrated by a malfunctioning radar.
Bill Maher and O’Halloran pushed the Munster champions three clear on 30 minutes, Tyrone sustained by a McNulty free right on the stroke of half-time.
Scorers for Tipperary: K O’Halloran (0-5, 0-4 frees); J Keane (0-3, 0-2 frees); C O’Riordan (0-3, 0-1 free); I Fahey, B Maher (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tyrone: C McShane (1-0); D McNulty (0-3, 0-3 frees); L Brennan (0-2, 0-2 frees), C Byrne, M Kavanagh (0-2 each); M Kavanagh, M Cassidy (0-1 each).
Tipperary: E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, C O’Shaughnessy; R Mulcahy, L Boland, B Maher; S O’Brien, C O’Riordan; J Lonergan, I Fahey, L Casey; K O’Halloran, J Keane, P Maher.
Subs: J McGrath for P Maher (53 mins).
Tyrone: S Fox; R Mullan, P Hampsey, C McLaughlin; K McGeary, R Brennan, M Cassidy; F Burns, C McShane; M Kavanagh, C Meyler, M Walsh; C Byrne, L Brennan, D McNulty.
Subs: R McGlone for Walsh (HT), R Kelly for McShane (59 mins), P McKenna for Brennan (62).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford).