Tyrone came to Croke Park on Sunday afternoon looking to end a ten-year wait to reach an All-Ireland final. Monaghan’s drought has been considerably longer. The Farney County, who have never lifted the Sam Maguire, had their sole final appearance in 1930.
Malachy O’Rourke’s outfit bridged a 30-year gap to reach an All-Ireland semi-final as this golden generation looked to make the next step.
Perhaps the occasion got to the men in blue in the early stages, as Tyrone raced into an early three-point lead. It could have been more had Frank Burns elected to use the overlap. However, he went left and drove over the bar.
After the Red Hands moved into a 0-05 to 0-02 lead, Monaghan began to gain a foothold in the game, as Conor McManus and Conor McCarthy found their range.
Indeed, things could have become even better as Vinny Corey pounced first on a shot that rebounded off the post, but some resolute defending saw his goal-ward shot blocked down.
Nonetheless, as Monaghan drew level for the first time in the game in the 34th minute through a superb McCarthy effort, there was a huge roar around the Jones’ Road venue.
When Anthony Nolan blew the half-time whistle with the teams locked at 0-08 apiece, it was Mickey Harte who was the happier to get his side into the dressing room as it was all Monaghan approaching the break.
Tyrone start the brighter in a cagey second-half, as Connor McAliskey kicked them into a two-point lead. Given how they had finished strongly in games throughout the Super 8s, Tyrone had reason for optimism.
However, Malachy O’Rourke’s outfit remained resolute, and despite not leading at any point up to that, levelled for just the second time with 12 minutes to go through substitute Kieran Hughes.
Moments later, they were in the lead through a McManus free, and decibel levels soared around Croker.
The lead didn’t last long, as Tyrone broke up the other end and Niall Sludden slotted into the Monaghan net.
From there, the tie gathered pace as the finish line came into sight. McManus and Peter Harte exchanged frees, before the latter scored his first from play to give the Red Hands a three-point lead.
The Farney began to dominate Niall Morgan’s kickouts, as Kieran Hughes and Drew Wylie pulled it back to one in injury-time.
Ultimately, they were left with too much to do as Tyrone managed the game well to triumph by the tightest of margins.
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)
Scorers for Tyrone: Niall Sludden 1-02, Connor McAliskey 0-04 (0-02 frees), Peter Harte 0-02 (0-01 free), Tiernan McCann 0-01, Frank Burns 0-01, Colm Cavanagh 0-01, Cathal McShane 0-01, Lee Brennan 0-01 (0-01 free).
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-07 (0-06 frees), Conor McCarthy 0-03, Kieran Hughes 0-02, Rory Beggan 0-01 (0-01 free), Drew Wylie 0-01, Fintan Kelly 0-01.
1. Niall Morgan
3. Ronan McNamee
2. Michael McKernan
9. Pádraig Hampsey
5. Tiernan McCann
10. Mattie Donnelly
7. Peter Harte
8. Colm Cavanagh
12. Cathal McShane
24. Kieran McGeary
11. Niall Sludden
6. Frank Burns
17. Lee Brennan
15. Connor McAliskey
14. Richard Donnelly
Harry Loughran for Frank Burns (half-time)
Mark Bradley for Lee Brennan (48th minute)
Rory Brennan for Ronan McNamee (51st minute)
Conall McCann for Richard Donnelly (58th minute)
Declan McClure for Cathal McShane (63rd minute)
Ronan O’Neill for Connor McAliksey (63rd minute)
1. Rory Beggan
2. Kieran Duffy
3. Drew Wylie
4. Ryan Wylie
7. Karl O’Connell
5. Colin Walshe
14. Fintan Kelly
8. Niall Kearns
9. Darren Hughes
11. Shane Carey
6. Vinny Corey
13. Dermot Malone
15. Conor McManus
24. Conor McCarthy
10. Ryan McAnespie
Dessie Mone for Dermot Malone (46th minute)
Kieran Hughes for Shane Carey (51st minute)
Jack McCarron for Vinny Corey (69th minute)