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Ulster SFC: Monaghan secure dramatic victory

Monaghan's Conor McManus celebrates after the final whistle. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Monaghan's Conor McManus celebrates after the final whistle. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final

Monaghan 2-17 Tyrone 1-18

By Colm Shalvey at O'Neill's Healy Park

Monaghan set up an Ulster SFC semi-final against holders Derry after a late, late goal by Ryan O’Toole decided an absorbing derby in front of just over 10,000 in Omagh.

Tyrone were full value for their five-point half-time lead, but Monaghan were transformed after the restart, with goals by Stephen O’Hanlon and O’Toole bringing the away supporters to their feet. Having lost to their neighbours by eight points just last month in the league, Monaghan outscored Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-8 in the second half to get through this one.

Tyrone started with purpose, nobody more so than the elusive Darragh Canavan, who got 1-3 from play inside the opening quarter to put his side in command. Ryan O’Toole and Conor McManus (who was making his 60th consecutive SFC start) replied for Monaghan, but they mostly relied on the latter’s free-taking to keep them in touch through the first half.

Conor Meyler, Darren McCurry and Mattie Donnelly chipped in with a couple of points each for Tyrone, who went on to lead by 1-10 to 0-8 at the interval.

Monaghan made inroads by kicking the first four points of the second half, via Kieran Duffy, Jack McCarron, Mícheál Bannigan and McManus and although Donnelly and Conn Kilpatrick both fisted over to keep Tyrone ahead, they were soon trailing for the first time after O’Hanlon scythed through to fire past Niall Morgan.

Tyrone responded though a Morgan ’45 and Canavan’s fifth point as the game built to a pulsating finish, but sub Shane Carey and the increasingly influential Conor McCarthy hit back. The teams continued to trade score for score, with McManus and McCurry converting frees during a lengthy bout of added time, before McCurry clipped over what looked like it may have been the winner.

There was still time for one last twist, however, from an unlikely match-winner, as O’Toole refused the notion of tapping over an equalising point to go for the jugular and rifle a low shot to the net. Derry are next up for Monaghan, while Tyrone turn their focus to the All-Ireland series.

Scorers for Tyrone: Darragh Canavan 1-5, Darren McCurry 0-5 (3fs), Mattie Donnelly 0-3, Conor Meyler 0-2, Niall Morgan 0-1 (’45), Niall Sludden 0-1, Conn Kilpatrick 0-1.

Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-9 (8fs), Ryan O’Toole 1-1, Stephen O’Hanlon 1-0, Jack McCarron 0-2 (2fs), Conor McCarthy 0-2, Mícheál Bannigan 0-1, Kieran Duffy 0-1, Shane Carey 0-1.

Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Ronan McNamee, Pádraig Hampsey (Capt.); Cormac Quinn; Kieran McGeary, Michael McKernan, Conor Meyler; Brian Kennedy, Conn Kilpatrick; Peter Harte, Michael O’Neill, Frank Burns; Darren McCurry, Mattie Donnelly, Darragh Canavan.

Subs: Joe Oguz for O’Neill (45); Ruairí Canavan for Donnelly, Niall Sludden for McGeary (both 61); Michael McGleenan for Burns (64); Cormac Monroe for McKernan (72).

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Thomas McPhillips, Kieran Duffy (Capt.), Ryan O’Toole; Karl O’Connell, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie; Darren Hughes, Killian Lavelle; Stephen O’Hanlon, Mícheál Bannigan, Karl Gallagher; Conor McCarthy; Jack McCarron, Conor McManus.

Subs: Shane Carey for McPhillips (33); Kieran Hughes for D Hughes (inj., 40); Seán Jones for McCarron (53); Fintan Kelly for O’Toole (inj.), Dessie Ward for O’Connell (both 76).

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).