Tyrone reached their first All Ireland semi final since 2009 with a two point win over Monaghan on Saturday evening in a game that will be unfortunately remembered for the ravings of an embittered Derry man.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games but few Tyrone fans will not concern themselves with that as they prepare for the August 25th clash with….Donegal/ Mayo.
It was a day when boys became men for Tyrone as many of the sides more inexperienced players played key roles in helping their side claim victory.
The Red Hands showed great composure and guts to grind out a win in a game which many pundits thought Tyrone could be beaten.
Sean Cavanagh once again was magnificent for Tyrone, although his attacking prowess may only be serving too give cover to a lack of a cutting edge further forward in the Tyrone attack.
Monaghan got the best of the early exchanges, live wire forward Conor McManus causing Cathal McCarron plenty of problems.
McManus got the first score of the game in the second minute and his early free was followed up soon after by a Kieran Hughes point from play.
Tyrone responded however with a foul on Martin Penrose punished with a free from Darren McCurry.
Monaghan much as they had done against Donegal recaptured the initiative anf scored the next two points with McManus again point after a McCarron foul.
Paul Finlay made the Farney lead three points with another score from a free.
Tyrone responded with a Sean Cavanagh free but that was cancelled out by another Finlay effort.
Tyrone showed their experience and their midfield dominance began to be reflected on the scoreboard with three quick points from McCurry pointing before a Sean Cavanagh effort point the Red Hands back within a point.
Cavanagh’s point came as a result of some excellent work at midfield from his brother Colm and Conor Clarke and the Omagh full back got his name on the scoresheet next with an excellent effort from play.
The Oriel County retook the lead again with McManus on target again after he had shown new marker Carlin a clean pair of heels.
Tyrone as they had the week before against Meath upped the tempo in the final 10 minutes of the first half rattling off four scores to Monaghan’s one.
Sean Cavanagh unsurprisingly was at the centre of things with an excellent effort from the wing, before birthday boy Joe McMahon fired over a point of his own.
Cavanagh again pointed and as before McMahon found his range with a monstrous effort from the wing.
A late Conor McManus point kept the Monaghan men within two points at the break.
As the first half ended a tackle from Dessie Mone on Colm Cavanagh drew the ire of both Martin Penrose and Conor Gormley, Penrose seeing red for a strike on the Monaghan wing back.
Monaghan had the impetus now and opened the scoring in the second period with Stephen Gollogly wasting a glorious goal chance as he fired over. Dick Clerkin then thumped over a point as Tyrone came under pressure.
They responded well however and quick points from Errigal Ciaran Peter Harte and Ciaran McGinley ensured a two point lead once more.
Tyrone were in the ascendancy once more but a second yellow for Monaghan full forward Kieran Hughes appeared to give the Farney a boost.
A goal chance for the excellent McManus was denied by a Sean Cavanagh tackle sparking the ire of one attention seeking RTE pundit, McManus slotting over the resulting free to reduce the gap once more to a point.
A well taken Mattie Donnelly point steadied the Tyrone ship before the Farney got back on level terms.
At this time Tyrone played over 5 minutes with 13 men as Paddy McNeice got medical attention of the field and Monaghan took advantage.
Tommy Freeman exploited the slippery Croke Park surface to escape the clutches of the Tyrone defence fire over a score from the Cusack stand side of the field and McManus then converted a soft free to leave the game finely balanced.
The next score would be crucial and with Penrose, Joe McMahon and Stephen O’Neill all absent Tyrone needed some leadership.
Ronan O’Neill duly delivered with a great turn and shot under pressure from 35 metres to give Tyrone a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. A late Sean Cavanagh free sealed the win as a young Red Hands team showed the composured of seasoned veterans to see the game out.