Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor
Football Championship Quarter-Final
Tipperary 0-9 Monaghan 0-12
Tipperary came within inches of landing a knock-out blow in a dramatic All-Ireland minor football quarter-final played at Pearse Park, Longford on Monday afternoon.
Two minutes into injury time Monaghan led 0-10 to 0-8 when Charlie McGeever’s men surged forward in search of a grandstand finalé. The ball was worked into the hands of Stephen Quirke who created room for a shot which was blocked. Gerry Cronin gathered the rebound only to see his effort at a three-pointer blocked before Quirke grabbed the ball once more. The Moyle Rovers man went for goal and this time the crossbar denied Quirke and Monaghan cleared their lines.
Monaghan, who were well worth their three-point win, managed to hold off Tipperary during a frantic final few minutes, but the Premier were left cursing their luck following Stephen Quirke’s misfortune and the failure of Charlie McGeever’s men to take full advantage of a strong breeze in the opening half. Indeed, Tipperary only led by one (0-5 to 0-4) at the break.
That said there are very real reasons for Tipperary to feel proud of these players. Not once did their heads drop or appetite for the contest dwindle. Indeed, corner-back Willie Connors illustrated all that was good about this Tipperary team. The Kildangan man shipped a bloody knock to the head in the 48th minute and returned three minutes into injury time to man his station in determined fashion.
Ross Mulcahy, Jimmy Feehan, Colin O’Riordan, Paul Maher and Alan Tynan all excelled for Charlie McGeever’s men.
Monaghan won the toss and elected to play against the wind in the opening half. A surging run from Colin O’Riordan set the tone for a determined Tipperary in the opening minute and although that attack came to nothing the JK Bracken’s man was fouled two minutes later and Alan Tynan kicked the Premier into the lead.
Monaghan served notice of their attacking prowess a minute later when a flowing move almost culminated in a goal for the Ulster champions. Tipperary, however, stretched their lead to two in the sixth minute when Josh Keane picked out Paul Shanahan and Shanahan booted over a great point.
Within seconds Conor McCarthy opened Monaghan’s account, but Tipperary responded with a point from Alan Tynan after a smartly-taken ’45 by Josh Keane. Then, in the tenth minute, Liam Casey added to the Tipperary tally (0-4 to 0-1) following a surging dash forward. Sadly, Casey was forced to shoot before the Cahir man could off-load to the unmarked Paul Maher.
Monaghan responded with points from Ferghal McMahon and Michael O’Dowd to reduce Tipperary’s lead to a single point by the 13th minute and although the Premier had already tested the resolve of Monaghan ‘keeper Conor Forde with a couple of searching deliveries aimed at the towering Paul Shanahan the Ulster champions already appeared the more significant force in this encounter.
To discommode the Monaghan lads Tipperary needed a goal and that’s exactly what the raiding Ciarán Lowry had on his mind in the 24th minute, but the Arravale Rovers man was swallowed up by an alert full-back line.
In the 27th minute an Alan Tynan free extended Tipperary’s lead before Josh Keane found a post with a misfortunate effort from a placed ball in the 28th minute. That effort could have opened a three-point gap between the sides, but, instead, Monaghan reduced the Premier lead to a very manageable single point when Conor McCarthy kicked his second from play in the 32nd minute. The circumstances of that McCarthy effort were significant. Once more Monaghan had attacked with real menace. Full-back Kevin Loughran had featured in the assault and provided David McAllister with a final pass before McAllister’s effort on goal was saved superbly by Tipperary ‘keeper Jack Brady. Tipperary smothered a follow-up effort before McCarthy found the room to leave one between them at the break - Tipperary 0-5 Monaghan 0-4.
The advantage now enjoyed by Tipperary did not feel like nearly enough. The breeze was growing stiffer by the minute and the illustration of that complication arrived as early as the 34th minute when Josh Keane’s free fell short. Conversely, in the 35th minute, Conor McCarthy landed a long-range point off his left to tie the game.
A minute later Monaghan took the lead for the first time when some ferocious tackling from the Monaghan forwards forced Kevin Fahey into an over-carry and Ferghal McMahon booted the Ulster champions into a 0-6 to 0-5 lead in the 36th minute. Michael O’Dowd added to his side’s tally with a monster from distance in the 40th and Monaghan led by two - 0-7 to 0-5.
Monaghan had now scored 0-3 without reply and Tipperary needed to respond. And, respond they did. A brilliant point from a tight angle in the 41st minute courtesy of Paul Maher left one between them before an Alan Tynan free a minute later left the sides locked at 0-7 apiece. It should be noted that the Tynan free was generous and came courtesy of a referee who proved himself of the fussy variety.
Tipperary’s momentum was checked somewhat in the 48th minute when an ugly clash of heads between Willie Connors and Dónal Meegan delayed the game for five minutes - happily both players returned to the field of play following treatment.
Monaghan steadied themselves thereafter with spectacular points from Conor McCarthy and Ryan McAnespie helping the Ulster champions into a 0-9 to 0-7 lead by the 58th minute. Tipperary responded with an Alan Tynan free, but in the first minute of injury time a Ferghal McMahon effort forced Monaghan two clear.
We were then treated to the drama of seeing two Tipperary efforts at goal blocked before Stephen Quirke’s rasper found the Monaghan crossbar and was cleared to safety.
With referee Shane Hehir electing to play at least six minutes of injury time there was still time for Tipperary to rally, but in the 64th minute a Ferghal McMahon free helped Monaghan into a three-point lead before a sensational effort from Adam Treanor made it four two minutes later.
In the 67th minute a second yellow card saw Michael O’Dowd dismissed for Monaghan before Colin O’Riordan kicked a point from a tight angle to leave just three points between them entering the 68th minute. Monaghan ‘keeper Conor Forde delayed his subsequent kick-out to such a degree that referee Shane Hehir elected to throw the ball in on the 21-yard line. Colin O’Riordan managed to break it, but the Monaghan defence hovered up the loose ball and seconds later the final whistle blew.
Tipperary: Jack Brady (Ballina), Danny Owens (Moyle Rovers), Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule), Willie Connors (Kildangan), Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials), Ross Mulcahy (Moyle Rovers), Ciarán Lowry (Arravale Rovers), Liam Casey (Cahir, 0-1), Colin O’Riordan (JK Bracken’s, captain, 0-1), Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle), Tom Kirwan (Ardfinnan), Pádraig Louram (Clonmel Commercials), Alan Tynan (Inane Rovers, 0-5, 0-4 frees), Paul Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash, 0-1), Paul Shanahan (Upperchurch-Drombane, 0-1). Subs: (39th) Stephen Quirke (Moyle Rovers) for Tom Kirwan, (50th) Mark Russell (Lattin-Cullen) for Liam Casey, (50th) Michael Connolly (Clonmel Commercials) for Willie Connors [blood], (53rd) Gerry Cronin (Ardfinnan) for Pádraig Louram, (63rd) Willie Connors for Michael Connolly.
Monaghan: Conor Forde, Paul McArdle, Kevin Loughran, Shane Treanor, Adam Kieran, Aodh Curran, Mervyn Brown, Desmond Ward, Mikey Murnaghan, Ryan McAnespie (0-1), David McAllister, Michael O’Dowd (0-2), Conor McCarthy (0-4), Ferghal McMahon (0-4, 0-2 frees), Barry McGinn. Subs: (20th) Ciarán Martin for Shane Traenor, (37th) Dónal Meegan for Adam Kieran, (47th) Adam Treanor (0-1) for Barry McGinn, (50th) Mark Magee for Dónal Meegan [blood], (64th) Dónal Meegan for Mark Magee, (64th) Seán McMahon for Desmond Ward.
Referee: Shane Hehir (Galway).