Mark Gallagher’s 11th minute goal proved crucial as Tyrone defeated Longford by a solitary point at the Ballyconnell grounds on Saturday last to advance to the All-Ireland Masters Football Final.
Gallagher’s goal came less than a minute after Longford had created a goal chance of their own but John Corcoran’s powerful shot was saved by Tyrone keeper Gareth Quinn.
Although Longford gave Tyrone a really tough game, the Ulster side had a strong bench and were able to introduce Peter Canavan. The legendary forward scored three points and played a pivotal role in his side’s win along with the excellent Stephen Lawn at full-forward.
Eamon Kavanagh opened the scoring with a pointed free in the 5th minute before Derek Duggan replied for Longford with a fine long range point. In the 11th minute Corcoran went through on goal but was denied by opposing keeper Quinn, Tyrone then broke and Lawn laid the ball off to Gallagher who found the back of the net.
Points from Lawn and Ian Gallagher put five between the sides in the 13th minute before Corcoran converted two frees and then Derek Duggan was unlucky to see his free hit the post just after. Twice John Corcoran was on target, replying to Tyrone scores, but just before the break a fine point from Damien Gormley stretched the lead to four points, 1-6 to 0-5.
Longford started the second half well with a free from Corcoran after just a minute and the midlanders then created two goal chances; Ciaran Keogh played the ball in but Derek Duggan’s fisted effort went wide and one minute later Emmet Kenny’s low drive narrowly missed the target.
Twice in seven minutes Longford reduced the gap to two points but Peter Canavan then got a couple of scores, the last in the 53rd minute. Frees from Derek Duggan and John Corcoran (2) kept Longford’s hopes alive as they closed the gap to the minimum of margins but time ran out for the gallant losers.
TYRONE: Gareth Quinn; Gary McKenna, Gavin McElroy, Paul Sweeney; Mark Gallagher (1-0), Ronan McErrity, Eamon Kavanagh (0-2, 1f); Hugh Quinn, Damien Gormley (0-1); Conor Daly (0-1), Mickey Cummins, Mickey McConomy; Ian Gallagher (0-1), Stephen Lawn (0-1), Marty Keys.
Subs: Fergal Gormley for H Quinn (10 mins); Conrad Quinn for C Daly (23 mins); Gerard McWilliams for P Sweeney (23 mins); Peter Canavan (0-3, 2f) for M Keys (26 mins); Conor Gallagher (0-1) for C Quinn (41 mins); Adrian Donnelly for S Lawn (46 mins); Andy McSorley for I Gallagher (50 mins): S Lawn for A Donnelly (56 mins).
LONGFORD: Ray Hussey; Sean Corr, Jack Lynn, Seamie Hagan; Tom Dillon, Ciaran Keogh, Eamon McEvoy; John Coyle, Ken Duggan (0-1); Emmet Kenny, Derek Duggan (0-2, 1f), Jimmy Kiernan; Enda Macken, John Corcoran (0-9, 8f), Michael Flynn.
Subs:- Shane Arthur for M Flynn (24 mins); Ollie Rogers for J Kiernan (38 mins); Dermot McCormack for E Macken (60 mins); Des Skelly for E Kenny (60 mins).
Referee: Thomas Doonan (Cavan)