| 8.9°C Dublin

Red Hand have too much quality


Challenge: Mickey Harte

Challenge: Mickey Harte

Challenge: Mickey Harte

At the start of summer, the prospect of Dublin and Tyrone squaring off in the 'Super 8s' looked more than a live possibility, with the former shoo-ins for Leinster and the latter chasing their first ever Ulster three-in-a-row.

We're almost there now, with Tyrone just 70 minutes away from securing their place in Dublin's quarter-final group... but sceptics might dare to suggest they look further away than ever from being actual All-Ireland contenders.

Just as well, perhaps, that Cork this evening are next: Ronan McCarthy will have needed every day of the last fortnight to resuscitate his reeling Rebels after their Munster final horror-show.

But enough of the latest Cork crisis, for now. They were never seen as Sam Maguire contenders pre-summer; Tyrone, at a push, were.

But they have veered off-script - not just in surrendering their provincial crown at the first attempt (losing to Monaghan was hardly a "Where were you when...?" moment) but also in their scratchy recovery since then.

Mickey Harte's men have been pushed to the extra-time brink by Meath, a county that has long lost its reputation for breeding fear and loathing in the rest of Gaeldom. They got going - eventually, after a poor first quarter - against Carlow to run out ten-point winners.

Yet there was no notable step-up against Cavan, who had fought back to parity on 50 minutes before Tyrone upped the ante when it mattered.

Perhaps that Ulster derby battle, ending in a three-point victory, will steel Tyrone for what comes next. "A great way to go through," Harte suggested. "We are really pleased to get a game like that."

But will they get a similar game in Portlaoise? Much will depend on the Cork psyche; if hammering Tipp appeared to be a case of two steps forward, losing to Kerry by 17 was more like ten steps back.

Tyrone have yet to set the world alight. They may not have to here.

Odds: Cork 16/5 Draw 9/1 Tyrone 1/3

Verdict: Tyrone