All-Ireland MFC: Tyrone hand Royals a lesson

August 31, 2008
Tyrone 1-21 Meath 2-07 Although conceding two goals within a minute, midway through the second half, Tyrone remained composed to book a spot in their first All-Ireland decider since 2004, following an impressive 11-point win over Meath at Croke Park in this ESB All-Ireland semi-final. Ardboe native and Sydney Swans AFL prospect Kyle Coney was in sublime form, after he was moved from midfield to attack for the second half, and kicked seven points in the closing 30 minutes, after the Red Hands took a 1-07 to 0-05 interval lead, with Conor O'Neill netting a 27th minute goal. Tyrone manager Raymond Monroe, would have been certainly pleased with his sides second half display, an erstwhile performance full of the carefree, fast paced football everyone has come to expect from the minor grade. Trailing by 12-points after 11 minutes of the second half, Meath failed to throw in the towel and also display great composure with Carroll and Smyth's goals, leaving just five-points between the sides 12 minutes from the end. However Tyrone weren't to be denied a place in their first All-Ireland Minor football decider since 2004, as they outscored the Royals by six points to one in the closing eight minutes, with Coney on target for four of those scores. As both teams tried to shake off the early nerves, the game was keenly contested in the opening stages with the sides level on two occasions inside 10 minutes. Paddy Gilsenan, who replaced Jake Regan before the game, got Meath off the mark with a point from a placed ball after three minutes, but had his score quickly cancelled out by a similar Conor O'Neill effort two minutes later. Meath were eager for scores but came up against a strong Tyrone defence and following good work at the back for the Red Hands by Gavin Teague and captain Ryan Pickering, the Ulster champions worked the ball up-field for Niall McKenna to slot between the posts. Mark Battersby equalised from play on ten minutes, but once midfielder Martin Rogers took his first point in the 14th minute to put Tyrone back in front, his side would continue to hold the lead until the full-time whistle. Tyrone were firmly on top in the second quarter, and they held Meath to just three points before half-time, all of the Royals scores coming from placed balls - in contrast only two of Tyrone's first half tally of 1-7 came from frees. Scores from Ciaran Gervin, Niall McKenna and O'Neill ensured a 0-07 to 0-03 lead by the 23rd minute. Tyrone's only goal of the game came four minutes later, either side of a Gilsenan free for Meath; as corner-forward Conor O'Neill blasted the ball to the net. This came following a sustained period of pressure by his colleagues on the Meath defence, with half-forward Matthew Donnelly robbing Royals full-back Ciaran Lenehan of possession, with Donnelly feeding O'Neill, who slotted past goalkeeper Padraig Curran. Meath were certainly thankful to get a chance to regroup at half-time, but Tyrone once again came out strongly, scoring seven points without reply in an 11-minute spell following the restart. The Royals weren't without their chances through during this period with Tyrone midfielder Rogers committing a foot-block on a Gilsenan shot inside the square in the 35th minute. Despite referee Michael Meade awarding a penalty, centre-half-forward Michael Newman failed to convert the resulting kick, following an excellent save by Tyrone goalkeeper Tim Harney, as the Royals were forced to work hard once more. The introduction of Brian McRain and Brian Menton for Meath opened up the game for their side, with Battersby converting his third point before goals from Carroll and Smyth cut the gap to five-points. Carroll's goal came following a long ball was sent inside towards the midfielder, now operating on the edge of the square, his first shot was blocked by Gavin Teague and Peter Harte, however Carroll had a second attempt which he joyfully crashed past Harney. Smyth's shot was equally spectacular as he rounded Diarmuid McNulty less than a minute later, and sent a precision shot to the left of Tyrone keeper Harney, from 21 metres out. But Meath's joy was short-lived as Tyrone ran rampant once more, a calm and cool display by Raymond Monroe's charges, the second win for his side over the Royals this year, after they previously disposed of Meath in the Ulster Minor Football League decider last April. Tyrone - T Harney; F McQuaid, G Teague, R Pickering; S MacRory, P Harte, K Mossey; N McKenna (0-3), M Rogers (0-1); C Gervin (0-2), D McNulty (0-2), M Donnelly (0-1); K Coney (0-7, 1f 1 45'), P McNeice (0-1), C O'Neill (1-3, 2f). Subs - R McNabb (0-1) for Rogers (45); R Tierney for McRory (56); B McGarvey for Donnelly (59); S Warnock for McNeice (59) Meath - P Curran; S O'Brian, C Lenehan, S Curran; E Nulty, T Johnston, D Tobin; J Owens, D Carroll (1-0); D Smyth (1-0), M Newman, M Collins; P Gilsenan (0-3, 3f), A Tormey, M Battersby (0-4, 2f). Subs - S Dalton for Collins (39); B McRain for Johnston (41); B Menton for Tormey (41); J Regan for Carroll (54); J Kelly for Nulty (57) Ref - Michael Meade (Limerick)

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