Dates with destiny

Niall Gartland looks back at how Ulster teams have fared in recent All-Ireland semi-final clashes…

2022: Galway 2-8 Derry 1-6

THE Oakleafers enjoyed their best season in decades last year, winning the Ulster title on a sun-kissed day at Clones, but their uncompromising brand of football came unstuck against a potent Galway team.

Two goals from Damien Comer, the latter an audacious 30-metre shot into an empty net, made the difference on the day. Time will tell whether Derry will fare better in a week’s time against Kerry.

2021: Tyrone 3-14 Kerry 0-22

WELL, Tyrone are still licking their wounds by the manner of their 12-point defeat to Kerry last weekend, but in years to come they can reflect fondly on their 2021 defeat over the Kingdom.

Tyrone were struck down by Covid in the weeks before the game – that’s an article by itself – but they were granted an extension and came out all guns blazing on the day itself.

Two goals from Conor McKenna and a palmed finish to the net from Cathal McShane were pivotal as they eventually ran out winners after extra-time.

2020: Dublin 1-24 Cavan 0-12

THE scoreline doesn’t suggest so but Cavan made a decent enough fist of this contest at an empty Croke Park against a team that had completed the historic five-in-a-row the previous season.

The Breffni were in bonus territory after a memorable Ulster final victory over Donegal, marching straight into a semi-final clash against Dublin.

Cavan fought hard and played some decent football in the first-half but they didn’t really possess the attacking punch required to take down Dessie Farrell’s side.

2019: Kerry 1-18 Tyrone 0-18

A CASE of what might have been from a Tyrone perspective. The Red Hands played some devastating football in the first-half with Cathal McShane having a field day, and the sides were level heading into the final 15 minutes of play.

But a Stephen O’Brien goal pushed Kerry ahead and David Clifford hit three of their four final points to book a place in the All-Ireland final. The feeling after the game was that Tyrone were a bit too conservative and that all changed when they met again in 20121.

2018: Tyrone 1-13 Monaghan 0-15

THERE have been worse games but this was still a bit of a grindfest between two Ulster rivals.

Monaghan had accounted for Tyrone in the first round of the Ulster Championship in 2018 thanks to a late Conor McManus wonderpoint, but Mickey Harte’s side avenged that defeat in a contest that ebbed and flowed to the final whistle. The game’s defining score was a well-taken goal from Niall Sludden, but Tyrone came a cropper in the final a couple of weeks later against Dublin.

2017: Dublin 2-17 Tyrone 0-11

A REALLY chastening one for Tyrone, this.

They’d played some scintillating football en route to the semi-final, smashing Armagh in the quarters, but their mean looking blanket defence was dismantled in one of the defining performances of the Jim Gavin era.

An early goal from Con O’Callaghan opened up a lead that Dublin never looked like relinquishing with their smart attacking play the key reason for such a comprehensive victory. Sean Cavanagh retired after the game and remains the Tyrone player with the most ever intercounty appearances , and by a distance.

2015: Kerry 0-18 Tyrone 1-11

TYRONE weren’t really fancied to do much in 2015 after a meek showing the previous year, but they built up a head of steam in the qualifiers and were pitted against Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s Kingdom, the reigning All-Ireland champions in the semis.

It was a decent game of football and while Kerry held sway for most of the contest, a late penalty goal from Peter Harte threatened a Tyrone revival.

Kerry finished really strongly, however, setting up an All-Ireland clash against the Dubs.

2014: Donegal 3-14 Dublin 0-17

DONEGAL famously claimed a victory against a Dublin side that had been portrayed as nigh on invincible in the lead up to the game.

However, Jimmy McGuinness had a plan to take down the Dubs and after an inauspicious start to proceedings, worked their way into the game.

It was all to play for in the second-half but they tore the Dublin defence asunder with their hard running style and booming kick—outs from Paul Durcan. The game was long over by a contest by the final whistle in one of the great championship shocks.

2013: Mayo 1-16 Tyrone 0-13

TYRONE started this game strongly with young players like Connor McAliskey and Darren McCurry scoring points, but they lost key players Peter Harte and Stephen O’Neill to injury in the first-half and Mayo gradually assumed control of the contest.

Mayo trailed by only a point at the break despite having a really slow start to proceedings and it was basically one-way traffic in the second-half, outscoring the Red Hands by 1-10 to six points.

2012: Donegal 0-16 Cork 1-11

A SENSATIONAL performance from Donegal against a strong Cork team. The sides were virtually inseparable in the first-half but Donegal’s movement and support play shone brightly in the second-half with points from defenders Frank McGlynn, Anthony Thompson and Karl Lacey.

Cork were basically a beaten docket in the final ten minutes and while they got a late goal, it was too little too late against a Donegal side that ended the year with the Sam Maguire.

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