By Frank Brady
Sunday’s last game at Gaelic Park was more notable for its effects on the fates of the competing teams rather than the quality of the football. Defeat for Tyrone effectively brought to a closure a season that had promised much but delivered little. Stamford’s victory kept their playoff hopes alive — dependent, of course, on the fortunes or misfortunes of others in the group.
This was a rather rugged encounter with too many players attempting to maximize their tactical advantage by fouling and inflicting maximum pain in the process.
Stamford got out of the blocks much faster with Pauric Graven putting them on the scoreboard on their first attack. They continued to dictate the pace of the game and looked like over running Tyrone as they led by 1-3 to 0-0 after 5 minutes with Shane O’Mahoney getting the goal. Colm Parkinson was trying hard to get Tyrone in motion, but he wasn’t having too much success against Jason Killeen. Finally, after 10 minutes, Tyrone’s most productive forward, Ollie Gaugran, opened their account with a point. However, Graven’s accuracy kept Stamford well out in front. It continued to be almost one-way traffic until Gaugran struck for a major score to make it 1-7 to 1-1.
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Graven chipped over another point before his scoring touch deserted him. Several missed chances late in the first half would have put Stamford well out of Tyrone’s reach.
Facing a 7-point deficit, Tyrone upped the tempo considerably in the second half. Gavin Wiley had a brace of points for Tyrone and the fiery forward was later inexplicably benched. Parkinson began to make his presence felt as he forced Pat Donahoe into making a fine save. Fergal O’Neill, now on free-taking duty, slotted over a point. Tyrone’s chances took a turn for the worse as Damian Patten picked up his second yellow card.
Despite being shorthanded, Tyrone continued to press as Ollie Gaugran increased their tally by two to leave five points between the sides midway through the second half. However Stephen Owens and Fergal O’Neill responded with two for Stamford to extend their lead. Mike Martin and Philip Wickham entered the fray to help the Connecticut boys close out the contest. But Tyrone kept battling, with Ollie Gaugran and Collie Fearon producing late scores to be five points behind as the buzzer ended this ragged game.
Man of the Match: Peter Quillinan.
Stamford: Pat Donahoe, Justin O’Halloran, Jason Killeen, Fergus Flynn, Richie Purcell, Kevin Newell, Keith Hennessy, Ronan Mooney, Peter Quillinan, Stephen Owens (0-1), Fergal O’Neill (0-3), Sean O’Brien (0-1), Padraig Graven (0-6), Eric Bradley (0-1), Shane O’Mahoney (1-0). Subs: Mike Martin, Philip Wickham, Terry McDermott.
Tyrone: Anthony McCann, Martin McMahon, Ciaran Byrne, Eugene McCann, Paul Convy, Kieran Doyle, Niall Doyle, Steve Campbell, Collie Fearon (0-1), Darren Flanagan, Ollie Gaugran (1-4), Gavin Wiley (0-2), Colm Parkinson, Philip Sloan. Sub: Mark Daly.