Harte happy as hard-working Tyrone lift Portlaoise hoodoo
MICKEY Harte hailed it as Tyrone's best display of the year, as his side recorded an impressive win at O'Moore Park on Saturday night.
It was the manner rather than the margin of victory that was significant here. After the first two rounds of the league, Tyrone were rooted to the bottom of Division 2 with no points, staring at relegation.
But this was their third straight win and more importantly had all the hallmarks we have come to expect from Tyrone in their pomp -- confidence on the ball, working tirelessly for each other and an array of attacking threats.
The big difference on the scoreboard was a 15th-minute goal from Colm Cavanagh, who bravely jumped between goalkeeper and defender to fist a long ball from Brian McGuigan to the net.
"It was the best 70 minutes we had so far this year and I hope there is more in them to come," said Harte. "The players were willing to work and put Laois under severe pressure to do things faster than what they wanted to do."
After 10 minutes, a wind-assisted Tyrone were 0-4 to 0-1 up through Sean Cavanagh, McGuigan, Colm Cavanagh and Owen Mulligan. With Martin Penrose typifying the appetite for work all over the pitch, they were creating plenty of chances but poor quality ball into full- forward Stephen O'Neill unhinged them.
The big breakthrough came with the goal, which left Tyrone 1-7 to 0-3 up at the break.
Justin McNulty freed up Kevin Meaney from defensive duties to an attacking role and this spurred Laois on, with a couple of well-taken MJ Tierney frees and a fine effort from the industrious Ross Munnelly sparking a comeback.
But a well organised Tyrone expertly soaked up pressure, shunted Laois runners into cul-de-sacs and had the experience not to kick away hard-won possession.
With Kevin Hughes and Aidan Cassidy working hard in the middle, Sean Cavanagh tracking back and the Red Hand dropping men to protect their full-back line, Laois were frustrated.
Laois got it back to a goal inside the last 10 minutes -- but never looked like staging a full recovery.
The defeat is a setback for McNulty's side -- who had opened with three straight wins -- but have now lost tight battles with Kildare and Tyrone.
"Tyrone's experience told in the end. It's not a worry. It's a work in progress with these boys, but a team giving the effort they did means I've no major concerns," said manager McNulty.
It was the first win for Tyrone football in Portlaoise in 20 years, with Harte having suffered a litany of defeats there at club, underage and senior level.
Man of the Match: Martin Penrose
SCORERS -- Tyrone: C Cavanagh 1-1, B McGuigan, S Cavanagh (3f) 0-3 each, M Penrose 0-2 (1f), K Hughes, O Mulligan, M Donnelly 0-1 each. Laois: MJ Tierney 0-5 (5f), R Munnelly 0-2, C Begley, D Strong, B Sheehan, K Meaney 0-1 each.
TYRONE -- P McConnell 7; C Gormley 7, C McCarron 7, D McCaul 7; D Harte 7, D Carlin 7, R McMenamin 7; K Hughes 8, A Cassidy 7; C Cavanagh 8, B McGuigan 8, S Cavanagh 8; M Penrose 9, S O'Neill 7, O Mulligan 7. Subs: Joe McMahon 6 for O'Neill (50), M Donnelly 7 for C Cavanagh (inj) (58), Sean O'Neill 6 for McCarron (66).
LAOIS -- D Maher 6; R Kehoe 6, K Meaney 7, P O'Leary 6; D Strong 7, S Julian 6, P Begley 6; P Clancy 6, M Timmons 6; P Cahillane 5, J O'Loughlin 6, C Begley 6; R Munnelly 7, B Sheehan 6, MJ Tierney 7. Subs: G Kavanagh 6 for Cahillane (30), P Lalor 6 for Kehoe (50), D Kingston 6 for Sheehan (58).
Ref -- M Collins (Cork).