Sport Gaelic Football

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Tyrone find old winning formula to hold off Dubs

Tyrone 0-18 Dublin 1-14

Tyrone’s Colm Cavanagh gets his shot away despite an attempted block by Michael Darragh Macauley.
Tyrone’s Colm Cavanagh gets his shot away despite an attempted block by Michael Darragh Macauley.

Dermot Crowe at Croke Park

THE stage looked bereft and the paying audience somewhat cheated without Dublin's and the league's most celestial presence, Bernard Brogan, sidelined by injury – and it is hard to imagine that he wouldn't have made a telling difference. But Tyrone took full advantage, ending Dublin's unbeaten run and joining them at the summit.

THE stage looked bereft and the paying audience somewhat cheated without Dublin's and the league's most celestial presence, Bernard Brogan, sidelined by injury – and it is hard to imagine that he wouldn't have made a telling difference. But Tyrone took full advantage, ending Dublin's unbeaten run and joining them at the summit.

After a close and slightly tentative first half, the quality of the football started to climb and the attendance of just under 20,000 watched a decent match with mounting fervour and intensity, a selection of wonderful scores and an unending uncertainty over who might win. Tyrone know they still have plenty work to do but they showed plenty of their old reliable characteristics of knuckling down and finding a winning formula.

Having lost badly to Cork in Omagh, this was a timely boost for Mickey Harte's side. Dublin have been the form team of the league and while Brogan was undeniably missed, Tyrone still had to endure spells when the tide was going against them. They overcame some sloppy first-half shooting, an ailment they largely put right after the break, and some fine stops by Niall Morgan proved critical.

In the end they were hanging on, Dublin pressing, but they weren't flattered to win. Dublin hit four points in six minutes to retake the lead with 13 minutes left. Two of Tyrone's subs had a decisive impact. Plunkett Kane scored two points and Patrick McNiece had the one that halted Dublin's gallop. Having conceded four, Tyrone scored four of their own without reply and it was enough to ward off two late scores in Dublin's push for the draw.

Though he faded after the interval, Stephen O'Neill was outstanding in the first half, scoring three points from play and being involved in two more. Ger Brennan was back in the team after suspension and surprisingly named at full-back in the absence of Rory O'Carroll. O'Neill, even in the twilight years, is a class forward and a player in a rich vein of form. By the second half Cian O'Sullivan had been put on him and Dublin found some measure of relief.

Kevin McManamon had a well-merited start and played a fine match, scoring two beautiful points and setting up the goal for Philip Ryan, who began on the same inside line. Ryan's goal was a classic predator's finish in the 16th minute when McManamon made the hard yards, and when his shot was stopped by Morgan it spilled to the St Brigid's man, who finished from close range.

Five team changes effectively became six when Ciaran Kilkenny went off after six minutes following an early collision. But McManamon, Paul Flynn and Paddy Andrews shared half a dozen points and Diarmuid Connolly kicked five frees and another from play. They also had the majority of goal chances. After 22 minutes Darren Daly, who made numerous probing runs, was put clear by McManamon's neat popped pass. His shot was saved by Morgan, then ricocheted off Daly and almost made the goal, Justin McMahon clearing just in time. Craig Dias, who replaced Kilkenny, had a follow-up effort smothered by the impressive Tyrone goalkeeper.

With O'Neill the primary influence, Tyrone reached the interval holding a slender 0-10 to 1-6 lead. Denis Bastick had a good opening half in the middle of the field for Dublin, who led from early with a Flynn point, slipped behind, regained a narrow lead and embellished it in the 16th minute with Ryan's goal. Tyrone never panicked, responding with three points, Dublin retaliating with two, before the final three scores of the half went to the visitors.

Michael Dara Macauley was on for Dublin after the interval, partnering the hard-working Bastick, as Dublin sought to improve their possession count in the middle third. Sean Cavanagh, pleasingly for Tyrone, remained game and had his reward with an excellent curled effort in the 44th minute that put his side 0-13 to 1-7 clear.

McManamon had already surpassed that with an exquisite score and a well-worked move by the home team almost earned a goal for Connolly. Morgan pulled off a crucial and confident stop.

Tyrone stretched their lead to a goal 10 minutes into the second half and invited a Brogan-less Dublin to respond. They did. With McManamon nicking another peach of a score, and Andrews matching it, they worked their way back and regained the lead. Tyrone had that bit more.

Scorers – Tyrone: S O'Neill (1f), S Cavanagh (2f) 0-4 each, Mark Donnelly, P Kane, P Harte (2f) 0-2 each, N Morgan (1f), M Penrose, C Cavanagh, P McNiece 0-1 each. Dublin: D Connolly 0-6 (5f), P Ryan 1-0, P Flynn, K McManamon, P Andrews 0-2 each, C Dias, MD Macauley 0-1 each.

Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, C Gormley, C McCarron; Joe McMahon, Justin McMahon, R McNamee; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh; Matthew Donnelly, P Harte, C McGinley; M Penrose, S O'Neill, Mark Donnelly. Subs: P McNiece for Matthew Donnelly (h-t); P Kane for McGinley (55); R McKenna for Joe McMahon (62); C McAlliskey for Penrose (62).

Dublin: S Supple; D Daly, G Brennan, K O'Brien; J McCaffrey, C O'Sullivan, D Daly; D O'Mahony, D Bastick; P Flynn, D Connelly, C Kilkenny; P Ryan, D Connolly, K McManamon. Subs: C Dyas for Kilkenny (inj 6); MD Macauley for O'Mahony (h-t); P Mannion for Ryan (52); N Devereux for Nelson (61).

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).

Irish Independent

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