Wednesday 20 November 2019

Dublin and Tyrone play out uninspiring draw at Croke Park

Dublin 1-9 Tyrone 0-12

Colm Cavanagh, Tyrone, in action against Dean Rock, Dublin.
Colm Cavanagh, Tyrone, in action against Dean Rock, Dublin.
David Kelly

David Kelly

Dublin and Tyrone played out an uninspiring draw at Croke Park in a game that was utterly forgettable for almost 69 minutes before a late Dean Rock goal offered Jim Gavin's side an unlikely escape to victory.

His goal in a game where chances of raising green flags were at a minimum offered hopes of a late reprieve.

They didn't take it; neither did Tyrone, who had a late 53-metre free from Niall Morgan which could have rescued both points for Mickey Harte's men.

They didn't grab the opportunity either; in truth, neither side deserved to win.

Tyrone smothered the Dublin side in a suffocating defensive blanket and their hosts had neither the wit or speed to break them down.

In fairness, only a point had separated the teams in their last three meetings so a close run thing would have been little surprise.

Tyrone will have learned more about their commitment to stolid defence, Dublin yet more doubts about how to deal with it. The rest of the country will have been interested observers.

With their recently revitalised trademark defensive system in place, Tyrone hit first with a Sean Cavanagh free and Dublin, fouling at a rate of one a minute and suffocating in the mass of white-clad bodies, struggled to get to grips with the visitors.

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A Dean Rock free levelled things but Justin McMahon's point from play and a dubious enough Cavanagh free via an upright - and a concealed Hawkeye decision - put them 0-3 to 0-1 up in the tenth minute.

Dublin responded well, a neat move finished by Rock and a delicious shimmy and left-footed score from the returning Bernard Brogan levelling affairs by the 15th minute.

Tyrone, at one stage withdrawing all their men to within their own 45-metre line, were still able to find room at the other end, aided by a stiff breeze, with Padraig McNulty and a Darren McCurrry free pushing them two points ahead again by the 20th minute.

Tyrone were creating many more chances, dropping four short and hitting four wides to Dublin's one but out of nowhere Dublin created the game's first goal chance.

Brogan's shot from the left rattled off an upright but when the rebound was collected by Nicky Devereux, his attempt to slide the ball beneath Niall Morgan was easily rebuffed.

Rock would point a free after this exchange but Morgan instantly replied with one of his own before two more Rock frees tied the sides at 0-6 apiece at the break.

The 27,469 crowd would have been hardly thrilled at the prospect; the sides may have ben level but football was the real loser.

Dublin took a scalpel to their side, Paul Flynn making his seasonal re-appearance while Eoghan O'Gara was also hauled from the bench; undeterred, Sean Cavanagh edged Tyrone ahead from yet another Dublin foul.

Dublin appeared baffled as to how to penetrate the white wall but Emmet O'Conghaile showed his men how with a superb driving run and score from midfield despite the attention of several sentries.

Tyrone were unmoved, necklacing together the best brace of points of the otherwise sterile encounter thanks to the boot of Mattie Donnelly and Barry Tierney.

Rock, who needed a big performance to lay down a summer statement of intent, responded to Tyrone's 0-9 to 0-7 advantage by minimising the margin with a lovely score after some good interplay in the crowded 45.

Then, when Brogan's pass was poorly dealt with by McMahon, Flynn announced his return to action with a deft point to tie it up for the fifth time at 0-9 apiece in the 57th minute.

Tyrone were relentless though, substitute Mark Bradley and then two more frees, a soft Darren McCurry one in fairness, followed by Sean Cavanagh once more, pushed the lead to three points, 0-12 to 0-9.

With six minutes left in such a suffocating environment, it was virtually an impregnable advantage and it would have been more had not Tiernan McCann fluffed an easy goal chance by dummying one time too many.

Rock's goal was a fitting punishment but few departed the big blue house with their hearts skipping a beat.

Scorers: Dublin D Rock 1-6 (4f), B Brogan, P Flynn, E O'Conghaile 0-1. Tyrone: S Cavanagh 0-4 (2f), D McCurry 0-2 (2f), J McMahon, P McNulty, M Bradley, M Donnelly, B Tierney, N Morgan (f),

Dublin: S Cluxton; E Culligan, R O'Carroll, J Cooper; N Devereux, P McMahon, J McCaffrey; D Bastick, E O'Conghaile; T Brady, D Rock, C Kilkenny; K. McManamon, P Andrews, B Brogan. Subs: C O'Sullivan for Bastick (29), E O'Gara for Andrews and P Flynn for Kilkenny (HT). J McCarthy for McMahon (59), S Carthy for O'Conghaile (64), C Costello for Brady (67).

Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; R McNabb, J McMahon, P Harte; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; T McCann, M Donnelly, B Tierney; D McCurry, S Cavanagh, C McShane. Subs: M Bradley for McShane (HT), PJ Lavery for McCarron (55), C McCann for Tierney (60)

Referee: D Gough (Meath)

Online Editors

The Throw-In: 'Jim Gavin has achieved what Mick O'Dwyer and Brian Cody couldn't do'

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