All-Ireland U17FC: Red Hands repel Royals

09 August 2017

Tyrone's Cormac Monroe moves in to black as Jordan Morris Meath shoots during the All Ireland Under 17 semi final at Kingspan Breffni.

Tyrone are through to the inaugural U17 football championship final after seeing off Meath by 1-14 to 0-10 in a Breffni Park thriller.

There was a helter skelter finish to this semi-final, played in glorious conditions, as the Royal County raided valiantly for last-gasp goals to save their season but the Red Hands – who defeated Cavan in the Ulster final – absorbed the pressure confidently and kept them at arm’s length impressively with injury-time points from Cormac Donnelly and Darragh Canavan on the counter to set up an All-Ireland decider date with either Kerry or Roscommon (who meet on Saturday).

The final will act as curtain-raiser on a Croke Park triple bill on August 27th, when the Tyrone seniors will also be in action, facing Dublin in an eagerly-awaited All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

Tonight, the Tyrone lads took a 1-6 to 0-5 lead into the interval, having also hit six wides during an entertaining opening period.

Eglish ace Ethan Jordan beat impressive Meath goalkeeper Lee Browne to the ball and palmed to the net in the eleventh minute to give the Red Hands a 1-2 to no score advantage, points from centre forward Canavan and wing forward Cormac Donaghy in the fourth and eighth minutes respectively having got the Ulster league and championship double winners off to a steady start.

After Tyrone full forward Donnelly was denied a second Red Hands major by a great Browne save as the Royal custodian tipped the ball onto the post and clear, Meath No.14 Jordan Morris opened their account with a super strike, which was cancelled out quickly by Tyrone midfielder Joe Oguz; corner forward Jordan's point made it 1-4 to 0-1 after 18 minutes.

When Shane Walsh popped over a Meath free, Thomas Hoy from Kileeshil became the fifth Tyrone player to register and things went from bad to worse for the losers when they had Cian McBride black-carded seven minutes from the break. But Patrick Matthews nonetheless reduced the arrears to five and an excellent Morris free from an awkward angle edged the Royals – who defeated Dublin in a thrilling provincial decider at Drogheda last month - closer before Hoy opted to eschew a goal opportunity and fist his point on 28 minutes – 1-6 to 0-4.

Aaron Lynch displayed some tidy footwork to slot the Leinster champions’ fifth point and that score ensured that there were just four between the teams at the turnaround.

Morris (free) and Canavan traded scores upon the resumption and Walsh’s 38th-minute free had the game very much back in the balance, with just Jordan’s three-pointer now separating the sides. An inspirational point from centre back Liam Byrne had Ronan Kearns’ charges within two but Jordan replied from a close-range free before Browne executed another terrific save to deny half-time substitute Mark Hayes.

With the game very much in the melting pot, the Red Hands then doubled their advantage with three rapid points in as many minutes: midfield pair Matthew Murnaghan (Killyclogher) and Oguz (Errigal Ciaran) found the target before Ryan McCabe announced his induction into the action with a crucial score – 1-11 to 0-8 after 49 minutes.

McCabe hammered over his second eight minutes from the end after full back Sean Ryan had bagged Meath’s penultimate score from close range. The play ebbed and flowed in a frantic finish, with the winners hitting the post before finding themselves under pressure as Meath tried some Route One balls towards the square to test their defence.

A Walsh free closed the gap to five with a minute of normal time left and some desperate last-gasp defending denied Meath the goal they craved, with the resulting ‘45’ sailing wide. Donaghmore goalkeeper Lorcan Quinn dealt with the next Meath long ball and the Red Hands then struck the woodwork again at the end of a lightning counter-attack.

Donnelly’s late effort was tipped over by Browne and Canavan completed the scoring as the Red Hands progressed after a superb contest.

Tyrone - L Quinn; A Fox, M McCusker, C Ward; T Quinn, C Monroe, R Slane; M Murnaghan (0-1), J Oguz (0-2); C Donaghy (0-1f), D Canavan (0-3), D Miller; E Jordan (1-2, 0-1f), C Donnelly (0-1), T Hoy (0-2). Subs: C Quinn for C Ward, M Hayes for C Donaghy, R McCabe (0-2) for T Hoy, R Hollywood for R Slane, L Gray for E Jordan, K Barker for M McCusker.

Meath - L Browne; S Bannon, S Ryan (0-1), M Gavin; O Smullan, L Byrne (0-1f), C Courtney; C Doherty, F Watters; C McBride, S Walsh (0-3f), P Matthews (0-1); A Lynch (0-1), J Morris (0-3, 2f), M Costello. Subs: B O'Connell for C McBride (BC), D Keating for F Watters, M Murphy for S Bannon, E Martin for M Costello, A Ryan for C Courtney, J McMahon for M Gavin

Referee - B Tiernan.