Tyrone 0-14 Monaghan 0-14
Ryan McAnespie’s late leveller wasn’t enough to steer Monaghan clear of the Division One relegation play-offs at the end of a frantic Ulster derby at Healy Park.
The draw secured a semi-final spot for a Tyrone side which have won just one northern section game.
Black cards – four in all – dictated the course of a tie that swung back and forth, with Monaghan making hay while Cormac Munroe was in the sin bin, but faltering after losing Jack McCarron late on.
They led by three with 65 minutes played, but the home side reeled off four scores and Mattie Donnelly’s stoppage time point appeared to have won it, before McAnespie dragged his side back with the last kick in the 77th minute.
“We thought we were close to gone. We did well to dig it out,” said Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan.
“But, great character to come from three down to one up down the stretch, and without scoring a goal.”
His new management partnership with Brian Dooher has been forced into a fast-tracked process of getting to know their players and a measure of trial and error in the heat of important games, but they got there.
“We were in a three-week run-in here in terms of coaching and on the pitch, still with a bit of joining up to go and a bit of time.
“But we knew it was such a compressed league, that we just had to dig out results.
“Now, three points got us through, and we’re happy at that.”
Darren McCurry had three points on the board inside the first 15 minutes, pushing the home side ahead by 0-4 to 0-2 at the drinks break, with Conor McManus hitting both Monaghan points in his first start of the year.
Darragh Canavan’s fisted score had the Red Hands four clear, but a black card for defender Cormac Munroe saw Monaghan reel off six scores, turning a 0-7 to 0-4 interval deficit into a 0-9 to 0-7 lead as Conor McCarthy stroked over a fine score.
But Tyrone rallied for Ronan McNamee to grab a rare point, and they narrowed the gap to one.
Stephen O’Hanlon and McManus pushed Monaghan three clear, but they lost substitute McCarron to the sinbin on 67 minutes, and Tyrone cashed in.
Mattie Donnelly regained the lead deep into stoppage time, but there was still time for McAnespie to rescue a draw with seven extra minutes played.
“There were some good flowing moves, we need to be more clinical. But a result’s a result,” Logan reflected.
“You need 30-plus players capable of doing it out on the field and that’s what we’re working to.
“It’s a very difficult year to give lads a chance, because there’s no McKenna Cup, no lead-in, and we’ve tried to balance it and try men.
“But you have to balance that with results, and that’s the key moment.”
Tyrone: N Morgan; C Munroe, R McNamee (0-1), R Brennan; M McKernan, F Burns (0-1), P Harte; M Donnelly (0-1), R Donnelly; K McGeary (0-2), D Canavan (0-2), C Meyler; D McCurry (0-5, two marks), C McKenna (0-1, free), P Donaghy (0-1, free). Subs: M Bradley for Donaghy (half-time), Tiernan McCann for Munroe (42 min), M O’Neill for R Donnelly (46), L Rafferty for Brennan (46), N Sludden for Canavan (61), C Shields for McKernan (72).
Monaghan: R Beggan (0-2, one free, one 45); K Duffy, C Boyle, R Wylie; K O’Connell, K McMenamin, R McAnespie (0-1); D Hughes, K Lavelle; S O’Hanlon (0-2), A Mulligan, M Bannigan; C McCarthy (0-1), C McManus (0-6, four frees), S Jones. Subs: K Hughes for Jones (15 min), D Ward (0-1) for D Hughes (21), N Kearns for Mulligan (half-time), J McCarron (0-1, free) for O’Connell (half-time), S Hanratty for McMenamin (52), D Malone for O’Hanlon (64).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).