Monday 23 April 2018

Red Hands dig deep to survive real fright

Tyrone survived a Pearse Park ambush to send out a timely reminder that two of their three All-Ireland triumphs have been achieved via the qualifier system.

Back on the road again, the Red Hands last night began the task of gathering momentum for another title assault.

Mark Donnelly cracked home a goal early in the second half and Peter Harte fired over five points as the experience of the three-time All-Ireland winners told in the end. Longford showed no fear of their star-studded visitors, defending like tigers and attacking with flair and adventure at every opportunity.

Looking to exploit a perceived lack of pace in the Tyrone rearguard, they pushed the ball out to the flanks, varying their game also to target full-forward Brian Kavanagh, who had the measure of his marker Joe McMahon.

Kavanagh and Paul Barden shot the home side in front after debutant Kyle Coney had opened the scoring for the Red Hands.

The sides were never separated by more than two points in a first half that saw them level on six occasions, and significantly, it was Tyrone who were always chasing.

They did edge in front briefly through Harte, but found it difficult to break down a stubborn Longford defence in which Dermot Brady and Noel Farrell were excellent.

McCormack hit three scores, one of them a sublime effort from wide on the right, to nudge Glen Ryan's side into a two-point lead, and while Harte's third had the Red Hands back on level terms, a McCormack free sent the Midlanders in with an 0-8 to 0-7 interval lead.

But five minutes after the restart, the Ulster men led by five. Donnelly drilled home a goal from Coney's pass, and points from Martin Penrose, Sean Cavanagh and Donnelly -- who had another screamer finger-tipped over the bar by 'keeper Sheridan -- had them in total control.

Kavanagh and Francis McGee responded with a couple of points, but the Red Hands now carried more intent, and with Philip Jordan pushing forward from the half-back line, they became a much more potent force.

Harte thumped over his sixth from play, and Penrose and Colm Cavanagh were also on target as they made it 1-15 to 0-13 going into the final 15 minutes.

Now the experience of Ryan McMenamin, Jordan, Sean Cavanagh and substitute Brian Dooher was beginning to have a major impact,

But Longford were determined to have another go, and two McCormack points made it a three-point game and ensured the visitors sweated out the last four minutes

Scorers -- Tyrone: M Donnelly 1-2, P Harte 0-7 (1f) M Penrose (1f), S Cavanagh (2f), C Cavanagh 0-2 each, K Coney, T McGuigan 0-1 each.

Longford: S McCormack 0-6 (2f), B Kavanagh, F McGee 0-3 each, P Barden, N Farrell, D McEligott 0-1 each.

Tyrone: P McConnell, C Gormley, Joe McMahon, D Carlin, R McMenamin, Justin McMahon, P Jordan, A Cassidy, S Cavanagh, C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, P Harte, M Penrose, M Donnelly, K Coney. Subs: B Dooher for McGuigan (h-t), Sean O'Neill for Gormley (55), O Mulligan for Penrose (55), C McCarron for Carlin (62), T McGuigan for Coney (67)

Longford: D Sheridan, D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly, S Mulligan, K Diffley, N Farrell, B McElvaney, M Brady, D Barden, D McElligot, P Barden, F McGee, B Kavanagh, S McCormack. Subs: N Mulligan for McElligot (55), C Smith for Diffley (59), J McGivney for McElvaney (64)

Referee: P McEnaney (Monaghan).

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