Tyrone Report From Ulster Minor Final




Tyrone got their hands on the Ulster ladies minor football championship on Saturday last when they turned in a remarkable display to end Donegal’s hopes of three in a row of titles at wet and windy Irvinestown.  Few gave a youthful Tyrone a chance against the champions, full of experienced players Donegal went into the tie as favourites, yet with belief in their own ability and a determined focused approach Tyrone sealed a dramatic victory with an injury time goal hauling them over the line.

It was a fully deserved victory though, there was nothing fortunate about it, Tyrone had been outstanding from the start, foraging for every ball, not allowing Donegal to get into their free flowing style and above all trying to play good football on a slippery sod.

For the Tyrone management of Pius Fox and Louise Daly this was perhaps a surprise title, the bulk of this squad will be available again next season but are no strangers to winning with many of them Under 16 Ulster champions under this management duo, Fox was overwhelmed by it all

“ I am delighted, these girls have been great to work with over the years and we have achieved this title even though we were the only ones to believe we could do it, its special but it proves that hard work does bring success, this is a young bunch of players but they are and have been winners, we went into the game without our captain Faoiltiarna Keenen who is injured but we were unified and were not going to be beaten”

Foxs’ opposite number Kenny Griffin was disappointed,

“ Tyrone were lucky there, we missed Geraldine (McLaughlin) and when she came on she made a big difference, she wasn’t 100%, she was a big loss, I am disappointed”

Donegal got off to the best possible start after Tyrone’s Nicola Donnelly had wasted two early scoring opportunities from close range frees, Emma McGroary a late replacement for the injured ace forward Gearldine McLaughlin set up centre half forward Ciara Grant for an opening goal.

Far from rattled though Tyrone steadied the ship and hit 1-3 without reply as they took a grip and in truth could have been further in control as Zoe Loughran and tireless Colleen McQuaid went close. Tyrone’s opening goal came through Nicola Donnelly, her long range free dropped in over the Donegal goalkeeper Mary B O’Donnell for a three pointer, Donnelly added two further points with Cappaghs Teri McCusker latching on another.

On twenty minutes though all Tyrones good work was shelved when Grant stole in to finish to the net again, The St Eunans forward sharpest to react when a hopeful ball came in from the right. In the remaining ten minutes Tyrone hit the post twice and Loughran saw her effort well saved when Donnelly teed her up. Ciara McMahon and McGroary exchanged points leaving it all square going into the break. Tyrone had been dominant all over the park, Emma Collins, Orla Mallon around the middle and in the back they were sound, quick to move the ball from defence to offence, never allowing a good Donegal forward unit time on the ball..

Into the second period both sides traded chances but the introduction from the bench of senor star Geraldine McLaughlin raised the hopes of Donegal and immediately McLaughlin pointed a free kick, her first contribution, the Termon ace also set up Grant for a point as Donegal upped the tempo in the increasingly bad conditions. Tyrones chances were limited with the balance of the tie swinging towards Donegal and when Donnelly hit the post from a free on 18 minutes it looked like all the good work put in through almost fifty minutes was being undone. A well taken point from substitute Amber Barrett left three points between them and while Rebecca Barker was holding her own marking McLaughlin , Barrett, who surprisingly didn’t start was proving to be a real threat.

The tide turned again though, firstly Kennedy was sin binned and Tyrone sprang Cara McCrossan from the bench with seven minutes to go. The young Omagh forward made an immediate contribution. A patient build up opened up the Donegal defence, Donnelly directed her pass from the right, through the centre where McCrossan threw herself across the penalty area to drill the ball home. Tyrone level again and it was set up for a thrilling climax.

Barrett gave Donegal the lead again though and Kennedy returned to bring Kenny Griffins side back to a full compliment going into the final push. Tyrone were disciplined , Tori McLaughlin, Eadaoin Devlin, Jayne Lyons and Barker tremendous but unfortunate to concede a soft close range free, McLaughlin making no mistake to make it a two point game.

Showing the experience of two in a row title holders Donegal looked on course but they were not prepared for this dogged Tyrone, the never say die approach evident in these closing moments, McCrossan collected a loose ball on the half way line on the right, she ran through and delivered an inch perfect pass into the large square, Teri McCusker was the quickest to react, turning on a sixpence and from a near impossible angle the young Cappagh forward  somehow squeezed the ball to the net to hand Tyrone the lead again. Nicola Donnelly then kept her cool to wrap up the scoring with a close range free when the kick out from O’Donnell was over carried as Donegal struggled to get out of their own defence.

There was barely time for the kick out as referee Maggie Farrely blew he final whistle, the cue for wild celebration from Tyrone and real heartbreak for Donegal. Delight for Tyrone indeed,  A good display from every Tyrone player and a fully deserved win .All over the park Tyrone were impressive, they were assured on and off the ball but also focused on the overall goal, the Ulster title.

Tyrone have a long break now until the all Ireland campaign but there’s no doubt that Fox and Daly will have this side well prepared. A tremendous achievement for a very young minor side.


Nicola Donnelly 1-3, Teri McCusker 1-1, Cara McCrossan 1-0 , Ciara McMahon 0-1.


Ciara Grant 2-1, Gealdine McLaughlin Amber Barrett 0-2 each, Emma McGroary 0-1


Leah Lynch, Eadaoin Devlin, Tori McLaughlin,Clara McMenamin, Rebecca Barker, Jayne Lyons, Anne Scullion, Orla Mallon, Emma Collins, Nicola Donnelly, Zoe Loughran, Ciara McMahon, Teri McCusker, Louise Kelly, Colleen McQuaid.

Subs Cara McCrossan For McMahon

Subs Not Used

Kelly Boyle, Geneive Scullion, Faoiltiarna Keenan, Shannon Skelton, Emma Connolly, Alice McNally, Megan McNeilis, Aideen Tarynor, Tracey Donaghey, Eva Hicks, Fionnola Conwell, Sophie Lavery, Amy Cox, Elisha Woods


Mary B O’Donnell, Nicole McLaughlin, Eer Gallagher, Catherine Boyle, Kayla Farren, Kate Keeney, Orlaith Furlong, Tanya Kennedy, Dearbhaile McNeill, Caomhe Barrett, Ciara Grant, Lorraine Molloy, Emma McGroary, Maria Carr, Aisleen Cunningham

Subs used

Gearldine McLaughlin FOR Carr, Amber Barrett FOR Molloy, Niamh McLaughlin FOR Barrett

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