Friday 22 September 2017

Devastating Dublin slam the door on Tyrone charge

Dublin 0-22 Tyrone 0-15

Bernard Brogan fires a shot past the despairing dive of Joe McMahon and towards the Tyrone goal, only to see it saved by Pascal McConnell. Photo: David Maher
Bernard Brogan fires a shot past the despairing dive of Joe McMahon and towards the Tyrone goal, only to see it saved by Pascal McConnell. Photo: David Maher

DAMIAN LAWLOR, at Croke Park

Dublin produced their best performance for many years to steamroll Tyrone in Croke Park last night and book a date with Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Pat Gilroy's side won all the primary battles; exuded sharpness, created space easier and looked so much swifter in attack. With less mileage on the clock, they simply outplayed, outclassed and outfought the Red Hand.

We expected a dogfight, but the game was as good as over by the 38th minute and the final exchanges were greeted by cries of Olé from the Hill. Had Paul Flynn rattled home a pretty easy goal chance in the 45th minute it would have been a slaughter against a Tyrone side too dependent on frees for scores.

Even with that miss, Alan Brogan's glaring chance a minute later and a fine Pascal McConnell save from Bernard Brogan early in the game, the Dubs were still two gears ahead of their rivals throughout.

How they didn't score a goal is anyone's guess.

And afterwards, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte offered no excuses. "We allowed for marking Alan and Bernard Brogan, but when (Diarmuid) Connolly then kicks those points from play, what can you do?

"We could have put on ten different subs tonight and it would have made no difference. At the end of the day each of our players lost their own individual battles and we have no excuses."

And Harte had a word of warning for those who think they have seen the last of Tyrone. "Don't write this team off as a whole. Maybe individual players will make up their own minds but that is up to them and they will be given time and space to come to their own decisions."

Connolly set the tone for the night. Three different men marked him and his seven points from play, with either foot, were delivered in a most assured, confident and emphatic manner. It was without doubt his best display in a Dublin shirt.

Equally, Paul Flynn may not have grabbed the headlines but his energy and commitment were just as striking as Connolly's scores. For once Tyrone had no answer. They were left to look on as Dublin rocked a stadium inhabited by a crowd of 52,161 to its foundations.

Before the ball was thrown in, Gilroy made the expected changes; there was no Eamon Fennell or Eoghan O'Gara and in their place came Michael Darragh Macauley and Barry Cahill. Cian O'Sullivan replaced Paul Conlon in defence and they opted to play with two upfront, Bernard Brogan and Connolly.

Tyrone lined out as selected but they were given something of a footballing lesson in the opening half. Although Mark Donnelly opened the scoring for them after 50 seconds and hit another point near the end of the 35 minutes, the Ulstermen were completely outplayed by their opponents.

You could tell instantly that Dublin looked sharper and time and again players like Rory O'Carroll, Ger Brennan, James McCarthy and Mick Fitzsimons outsprinted the Tyrone forwards to the ball.

The writing was on the wall for Mickey Harte's men when Bernard Brogan broke through on goal after two minutes only for Pascal McConnell to pull off a flying save. Stephen Cluxton pointed the resultant 45.

Despite the conditions, a high tempo game continued as the ball zipped around the field. Connolly levelled the scores after six minutes and soon after Alan Brogan curled over a sublime point with the left boot before the in-form Connolly picked off another score after 11 minutes as Tyrone struggled to cope with the Dubs' two-man full forward line.

On several occasions, Bernard Brogan also chased back and tackled which epitomised his team's work-rate. A marker was laid down and when Connolly hit his third point of the day, with just a quick look at the posts, the lead was extended by three points, 0-5 to 0-2.

Space was abundant for Gilroy's side now and Connolly could hardly believe his luck when he hit another gem after 16 minutes to leave it 0-6 to 0-3. Harte moved Sean O'Neill over on him in an attempt to curb his influence.

At one stage, with Tyrone trying to get back in the game, they were left with two of their forwards playing against six Dublin defenders. Only Kevin Hughes was making any sort of impact around the middle of the field and any supply their forwards got was upset by the opposition full back.

Bernard Brogan hit a point after 26 minutes; by now all their scores bar Cluxton's '45 were from play -- some going in those conditions.

They extended that lead to 0-11 to 0-6 at the break and it was little surprise that Tyrone took so long to re-emerge from the dressing room as Harte lay down a gauntlet to his men.

When they came back out, Conor Gormley went on Connolly, his third marker of the evening and Justin McMahon and Brian McGuigan were both replaced. But the Dubs were rampant; Connolly struck for yet another point, Denis Bastick hit a beauty from play while Flynn put them 0-14 to 0-6 up within just three minutes of the restart. They went on to miss three gilt-edged goal chances but after 55 minutes they led 0-18 to 0-10 thanks to both Brogans and Connolly.

They never looked back and powered on to meet Donegal where they will fancy their chances of making their first All-Ireland final since 1995.

As for Tyrone, last night surely signalled the end for a number of their warriors. The balance of power has shifted but those men owe the game or their county nothing.

Scorers -- Dublin: D Connolly 0-7, B Brogan 0-5, A Brogan 0-3, S Cluxton (1f, 1 '45'), P Flynn 0-2 each, B Cullen, D Bastick, B Cahill 0-1 each. Tyrone: M Penrose (3f), S Cavanagh (3f) 0-4 each, S O'Neill, M Donnelly 0-2 each, P Harte (1f), B Dooher, E McGinley 0-1 each.

Dublin: S Cluxton, M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, C O'Sullivan, J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan, D Bastick, MD Macauley, P Flynn, B Cahill, B Cullen, A Brogan, D Connolly, B Brogan.

Subs: R McConnell for MD Macauley (58), K McManamon for P Flynn (65), E Fennell for D Bastick (68), P McMahon for K Nolan (inj 70)

Tyrone: McConnell, M Swift, Joe McMahon, Justin McMahon, S O'Neill, C Gormley, P Jordan, K Hughes, S Cavanagh, C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, P Harte, M Penrose, M Donnelly, O Mulligan. Subs: B Dooher for B McGuigan (h-t), D Carlin for Justin McMahon (h-t), S O'Neill for P Harte (43), E McGinley for K Hughes (52), A Cassidy for C Cavanagh (52) J McQuillan (Cavan)

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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