Tyrone see off Tipperary to win Under-21 Championship

Red Hand hold on at Parnell Park to seal fourth U-21 All-Ireland title

Tipperary’s Paul Maher is tackled by Kieran McGeary of Tyrone. Photograph: Inpho

Tipperary 0-13 Tyrone 1-11

Cathal McShane’s goal is ultimately what separated the counties in this gripping All-Ireland under-21 football final. It’s their first national title at this grade since 2001. That team went on to flood Mickey Harte’s senior panel as a golden era flowed.

Maybe it’s brewing again.

Considering the wind advantage, Tyrone will rue 10 first half wides.


The dirty weather played its part but their dominance of breaking ball, especially in the face of Tipperary’s enormous centre fielders, really needed to yield more than 0-5.

Matters very nearly got away from them. Tipp will be disappointed with a two point lead at the break with 0-3 off Kevin O'Halloran's left boot (a key factor in this contest) along scores from Josh Keane, big Ian Fahey and Bill Maher - dropped by the senior hurlers last week.

But the best footballer on show, or certainly the most powerful, was their captain Colin O’Riordan. It didn’t result in a score but O’Riordan made the strongest statement of the opening half hour when launching himself over McShane to take man and ball in revenge for an earlier hit.

McShane slightly mistimed shoulder had earned him a yellow card. But he would come again and again. Longford referee Fergal Kelly had also noted Keane’s name for a sloppy grab. Both were deserving of these cautions but it was Steven O’Brien’s trip and stamp on McShane that surprising escaped a serious sanction.

Not that we were witnessing a dirty game or one dominated by cynical play.

Tyrone’s defensive make-up made it next to impossible for Tipp to plunder a goal but their counter attacking did yield some impressive points.

Just not enough to ease clear of Feargal Logan’s Ulster champions.

The second half was delayed due to a “medical emergency” in the main stand. As incessant rain beat down the interval lasted a painstaking

50 minutes with both teams permitted a full warm-up before the second half resumed.

Tyrone started the livelier but the same problem prevailed. Ruairí McGlone lent his sizeable frame to their attack only to slide a genuine goal chance wide of Evan Comerford’s far post.

That felt like a costly miss. Now all the Munster champions had to do was take their opportunities but O'Halloran was off target as a pair of Lee Brennan frees and a Mark Kavanagh strike leveled matters up.

O’Halloran instantly responded by stroking a long range effort off the greasy surface. There was some verbals in his run up. He cupped his ear to them as the ball sailed between the posts. Next Keane’s third score made it 0-10 to 0-8.

It looked like Tipp’s year.

O’Halloran’s left foot threatened to dominate the night’s play but a

55 metre curling effort bounced off the crossbar. Another three frees drifted wide. These proved the really expensive miscues.

Then came the goal. It’s doubtful McShane’s bravery has ever been in question. He would have known the consequences of mining so deep into Tipp’s defence but his heroics were rewarded. Hurt after the cleanest of finishes, he needed attention behind the goal as play continued.

He came back on.

Tyrone’s structure and energy levels kept them in front. They poured forward in white waves with Daniel McNulty’s accuracy keeping them ahead.

As the seconds ticked away it was McShane, with O'Riordan in his wake, who shipped a heavy blow from Kevin Fahey but not before Kavanagh was presented a sight of the posts. That gave them a three point cushion.

Battered and bruised, McShane departed.

O’Riordan instantly responded with a huge score as four minutes of injury time was signaled. He wasn’t done, landing an unbelievable free from the right sideline.

Unstoppable now, the Tipp midfielder was on to the kick out, sending another ball into the square. Goalkeeper Sean Fox was fouled as Tyrone survived. Just. At the end Michael Cassidy walked for a second yellow card but Tipperary couldn't scale the white wall.

O’Riordan’s brilliance was trumped by McShane’s resilience.

Performances befitting any final, Tyrone’s fifth under-21 All-Ireland was nothing but deserved.

Tyrone: S Fox; R Mullan, P Hampsey, C McLaughlin; M Cassidy (0-1), R Brennan, K McGeary (capt); C McShane (1-0), D McNulty (0-3, three frees); M Kavanagh (0-2), C Meyler (0-1), M Walsh; L Brennan (0-2, two frees), F Burns, M Bradley (0-2). Substitutions: R McGlone for M Walsh (half-time), R Kelly C McShane (59 mins), P McKenna for L Brennan (62 mins).

Tipperary: E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, C O'Shaughnessy; R Mulcahy, L Boland, B Maher (0-1); S O'Brien, C O'Riordan (0-2, capt); J Lonergan, I Fahey (0-1), L Casey; K O'Halloran (0-6, five frees), J Keane (0-3, one free), P Maher. Substitutions: J McGrath for P Maher

(54 min).

Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent