Tyrone retained the Dr Mick Loftus Cup following a thrilling 0-13 to 1-09 extra-time victory over Dublin at Ballinagh in a repeat of last season’s Final.

It was a contest that was laced with quality throughout with former Footballer of the Year Stephen O’Neill winning the man of the match award in a Tyrone side that was captained by Conor Gormley, with Ciaran Gourley completing a trio of triple Sam Maguire winners.

Dublin started brightly with points from Warren Finnegan and Tommy Brennan before Ollie McCreesh opened the holders’ account. McCreesh then levelled matters and he scored from a mark to leave it 0-3 apiece after 20 minutes after Niall Crossan had briefly put Dublin back in front.

Crossan then edged the Leinster men in front but that proved to be their last score of the opening period. Wing-half-back Gary Coney joined the attack to fire over the equaliser before a brace of O’Neill frees, the second a beauty from beyond the 45m line, left Tyrone leading 0-6 to 0-4 at the break.

In the opening attack of the second half, O’Neill blasted over to increase Tyrone’s lead before Brendan McManamon and Finnegan left it a one-point game.

Tyrone, though, with Fermanagh native Marty McGrath going well in midfield, still looked the better side and McCreesh put two between the sides from a placed ball after McGrath had been fouled after a surging run.

Gourley then broke up a Dublin attack and played the ball to Gormley, who in turn found McGrath, and he burst through to split the posts for an inspirational score to leave it 0-9 to 0-6 in the 39th minute.

Dublin were in trouble and things got worse two minutes later when Denis Bastick was straight red-carded moments after he had just come on.

In the searing heat Tyrone looked to be well on top but at the end of the third quarter it was all square after McManamon finished to the net past keeper Martin McCreesh.

Dublin now had their tails up and a point from Brennan was followed by one from a Finnegan free to leave it 1-8 to 0-9 with just eight minutes left to play.

Tyrone refused to accept defeat with Gormley leading by example and Martin Grimes reduced the deficit to the minimum.

With three minutes to go, O’Neill punished a foul on Gormley by knocking over the resulting free and from a difficult angle in injury time he was unlucky to see his effort from another placed ball hit the post as it finished 1-8 to 0-11.

Dublin were back up to 15 players while Tyrone had to start extra-time with 14 after Karol McQuade had been black carded. An O’Neill free gave Tyrone a lead they were never to lose before John McMullan left two between the sides at the break in extra-time.

In the opening attack of the second period Crossan reduced the deficit to the minimum but Tyrone showed experience to retain possession and see out the game and win the silverware.

Tyrone: M McCreesh, C Gourley, A Brady, D McDevitt, G Coney (0-1), C Gormley, L Patterson, M McGrath (0-1), D McAnallen, D Kelly, M Anderson, E Bradley, O McCreesh (0-4, 2F, 1M), S O’Neill (0-5, 4F), N Grimes (0-1).

Subs: B Collins for McAnallen, K McQuade for Brady, J McMullan (0-1) for Anderson, R McCallion for Grimes, A Brady for Coney

Dublin: J Keogh, C Donohue, S Guckian, F Condron, B Kirby, S O’Sullivan, G O’Connell, K Golden, D Flanagan, D Ryan, T Brennan (0-2), B McManamon (1-1), W Finnegan (0-3, 3F), C McGuinness, N Crossan (0-3, 2F).

Subs: K Carroll for Finnegan, I Clarke for Flanagan, D Bastick for O’Connell, P Murtagh for McGuinness


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