Tyrone's good form continues against 13-man Monaghan
Tyrone 0-14 Monaghan 0-10
Monaghan’s unbeaten run came to an end at Healy Park, but only after a heroic effort with 13 men, as Tyrone’s promising season took another positive turn.
After the Farney men’s heroics in Killarney, Malachy O’Rourke arrived with a team he felt was equipped to claim another big scalp, but the outcome was defined by the pace and finishing power of Mickey Harte’s exciting young outfit.
The Farney men had to play almost the entire second half two players short, after Fintan Kelly and Dermot Malone were sent off, and they made a game of it, after being out-played in the opening period.
Healy Park survived a pitch inspection earlier in the day, thus avoiding a second successive postponement, following the loss of last weekend’s clash with Cavan due to a waterlogged surface.
Tyrone’s supremely effective defensive system squeezed the life out of a succession of Monaghan attacks, and forced to shoot from distance, they racked up a succession of wides.
It took the Farney men all of 25 minutes to register their opening score, from Jack McCarron, but by that stage they had fallen four points behind to a Tyrone team that raided with searing pace on the breakaway.
Conor Meyler, Tiernan McCann, Darren McCurry and Frank Burns all sent over spectacular scores, and the Red Hands also missed a penalty, awarded for a foul on Mattie Donnelly.
Peter Harte, normally reliable from the spot, sent his kick wide, but it was only a temporary respite for the visitors.
Harte made amends with three points, one a stunning effort from distance, and McCann and Justin McMahon also found the target.
Donnelly returned to the action after being replaced for a spell by blood substitute Sean Cavanagh to beat three defenders for a crack at goal, but his firmly struck effort came back off a post.
The workrate of a fired-up Tyrone team saw them go in at the break with a fully merited 0-9 to 0-2 interval lead.
And it went from bad to much worse for the Farney county when they had two men sent off within five minutes of the restart.
Fintan Kelly walked on a second yellow, while Dermot Malone received a straight red card.
Initially, Monaghan battled bravely with points from Conor McManus, from a ’45, after Mickey O’Neill had saved superbly from Dessie Ward, and a brilliant sideline ball from McCarron.
Goalkeeper Rory Beggan sent two long range frees sailing between the posts to narrow the gap to four points, and their workrate was causing real problems for their opponents.
Somehow, Monaghan managed to starve the Red Hands of possession, and when Kieran Hughes finished off a patient move on 56 minutes, the deficit was down to three.
But Tyrone resorted to a possession game and once more began to create openings. Substitute Sean Cavanagh converted a free, and McCurry smashed a shot against the crossbar.
But still Monaghan refused to go away, displaying incredible resilience, pulling another point back through McManus, but Cavanagh turned on the magic to stretch his side’s lead to four with a trademark shimmy and point
However, Monaghan were not done yet, and Kieran Hughes moved to full forward to plunder a point, keeping the game in the balance as it drifted into stoppage time.
But Harte’s fourth point and a couple of Sean Cavanagh specials helped Tyrone over the line, with a lot less comfort than they would have wished for.
Tyrone scorers: P Harte 0-4 (2f), S Cavanagh 0-3 (1f), D McCurry, T McCann 0-2 each, C Meyler, J McMahon, F Burns 0-1 each,
Monaghan scorers: J McCarron 0-4 (2f), R Beggan (2f), C McManus ( 1f, 1’45), K Hughes 0-2 each.
Tyrone: M O’Neill; P Hampsey, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, J McMahon, F Burns; C Cavanagh, D McClure; C Meyler, K McGeary, N Sludden, P Harte; D McCurry, M Donnelly, R O’Neill.
Subs: S Cavanagh for Donnelly (blood 15-21), C McShane for Burns (45), S Cavanagh for McClure (51), A McCrory for McCarron (59), C McCann for O’Neill (61)
Monaghan: R Beggan; F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; K Duffy, N McAdam, R McAnespie; O Coyle, K Hughes; T Kerr, D Malone, G Doogan; K O’Connell, J McCarron, C McManus.
Subs: D Ward for Duffy (h-t), C McCarthy for Kerr (h-t), S Gollogly for Doogan (61), J Mealiff for McAnespie (61)
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).