Tyrone booked their place in the Ulster Under-21 semi final after finally seeing off Down in a thrilling quarter final series.
The two sides played two extra time replays and there was again little between the teams in last nights game at the Athletic Grounds.
Down made the better start to the third installment of this series and led by six points early in the second quarter, but a Ronan O’Neill goal finally got Tyrone going and they went on from there to eventually take the spoils on the night. Gerard McAnulty and Paddy Boyle showed the Down forwards how it should be done, giving their side a two point advantage early on. Devlin and Anton McArdle were added further points, while a pointed free from O’Neill was all Tyrone could muster.
Devlin then had a goal for Down after 18 minutes, which looked set to send his side on the road to the semi finals. Savage added a further point, and Down led by six points, 1-5 to 0-2, and looked well in charge. However, Tyrone hit 1-4 in the space of six minutes, with O’Neill’s goal giving them the lead. O’Neill, Paddy McNeice and Niall Sludden all pointed but Ryan Brady clawed a late score back for Down. The sides were level 1-6 apiece at the interval.
Kyle Coney and Peter Harte put the Red Hands two ahead shortly after the restart. Shea McGuigan, Ryan Pickering and Sludden helped to increase the Tyrone lead even further. With wind advantage in the second half, they were well on top. Conor Poland and Paddy McNeice tried hard for Down, with the latter scoring two frees late on. Devlin also scored from a 56th-minute free, but it was too little, too late as Tyrone held out for a five point success.
Tyrone – N Morgan; R Pickering, R McNamee, F McQuaid; N Sludden (0-1), G Teague, S McKenna; N McKenna (0-1), R Donnelly; P McNeice (0-3, frees), P Harte (0-1), S McGuigan; K Coney (0-2), M Donnelly (0-1), R O’Neill (1-6, six frees). Subs: C Girvan for Teague, T McCann for S McKenna, J McCullagh for Girvan, S Warnock for R Donnelly.
Down – C Heaney; A Brannigan, M Higgins, K Quinn; P Boyle (0-1), G McAnulty (0-1), D McKibben; A McArdle (0-1), C Poland; B O’Reilly (0-1,free), P McPolin (0-1), P Devlin (1-3, one free); D Savage (0-1), C Harrison, R Brady (0-1). Subs: C Clarke for Brady, N McParland for McAnulty, Ryan O’Hare for Harrison, Donal O’Hare for Savage, A McConville for O’Reilly.
Referee – B Cassidy (Derry).