Dubs boot Harte's men through trap door
DUBLIN checked out of NFL 2010 on a positive bounce that will energise their championship preparations while Tyrone signed off with a double dose of misery having been well beaten and then dispatched through the relegation door after more than a decade in the top flight.
"Our destiny is in our own hands. We know that if we win today, we're safe," wrote Mickey Harte in the programme notes for yesterday's clash, a point which, no doubt, he repeated all last week.
However, by half-time in Omagh, Tyrone's destiny had been ripped away from them by a Dublin team who played some delightfully expansive football. Indeed, so over-powered were Tyrone that all they could do was attempt to keep the margin down to respectable levels before they returned to the dressing-room to assess the damage.
It didn't make for pretty viewing for Harte and his repair crews. Dublin led by 2-10 to 0-7 at half-time after blitzing Tyrone with goals from Alan Brogan and Niall Corkery in the final five minutes.
Brogan's goal came with his first touch in his first game of the season, having come on as a sub for Alan Hubbard and, appropriately enough, the chance was set up by his brother, Bernard who was terrorising the Tyrone defence.
He kicked five points from play in the first quarter, forcing Tyrone into adjustments that made no appreciable difference. They had started well and led 0-3 to 0-2 after 10 minutes but lost the remainder ofthe first half by 2-8 to 0-4.
It was all very precise by an inventive Dublin for whom Bernard Brogan, Kevin McManamon and David Henry posed problems for the Tyrone defence, whose difficulties were exacerbated by the injury to Joe McMahon after 14 minutes.
"If you concede 2-10 in one half of a game you're probably not going to win. We came out with a battling effort in the second half but made serious mistakes going for goals when a few points would have closed the gap," said Mickey Harte.
Tyrone were probably tempted down the goal route by their success in the first minute of the second half when Martin Penrose knocked the ball out of Michael Savage's hand and booted the ball to the Dublin net. Peter Harte hoisted a Tyrone point two minutes later and when Sean Cavanagh cut the margin to four points in the 47th minute, Dublin were facing a test of their character.
Their response was calm and effective as they funnelled back to soak up the sustained Tyrone pressure which, as Harte acknowledged, concentrated too much on attempting to engineer goals.
They came close once or twice but couldn't quite make it and with Henry, later sent off on a second yellow, and the Brogan brothers scoring breakaway points, Dublin eased themselves seven points clear and comfortably on their way to the their fifth win of the League.
And while it brought them level on points with Cork on the table, their head-to-head defeat by the Leesiders ruled them out of the final.
"The Galway match is one that we'll look back on as costing us a place in the final. But we'll move on from it now. It was disappointing (not to reach the final) but I suppose the performance here was one of our better ones so that's a positive thing for us," said Pat Gilroy.
"The difference between today and the first 20 minutes against Galway is that we took our chances this time. Some of the stuff in the second half wasn't great, particularly when we lost a man but when you're that far ahead you don't really mind," added the Dublin manager.
Certainly, their first half performance was as good as anything produced by Dublin for a long time. Their passing, fielding, support play and finishing (they shot no wides) was first class and left Tyrone looking decidedly second rate on their own patch.
Peter Harte, Aidan Cassidy and Martin Penrose looked lively at times while Kyle Coney and Brian McGuigan started well but the defence was struggling from the start and all the more so after McMahon's departure.
Tyrone have squeezed the resistance out of many teams over the years with their tight defensive work but they were stretched well beyond breaking point yesterday by Bernard Brogan and his eager accomplices.
Tyrone went into the league among the favourites to reach the final but lost to Derry, Mayo, Monaghan, Galway and Dublin in a surprisingly poor run of form which certainly wasn't what Harte wanted heading into the championship.
"It's very disappointing to leave this division after being in it so long but we're going to have to come to terms with it and move on. You want to be in the top division; we always strive to be there; in fact we strive to win it.
"We're far from that position at the minute so we're not happy at all but we have to make the best out of it and if we can do that by winning the Ulster title it will be a start," he continued.
Five wins from seven outings was a very satisfactory return for Dublin, even if it still came up just short of earning them a place in the League final for the first time since 1999.
"We've played 32 different players. We've probably learned to be a bit better defensively when we've concentrated on it. We still know that there is a gap between us and the top guys but when you see something like today you feel we're making progress and closing that gap," said Gilroy.
He would still rate Tyrone among the 'top guys' but they certainly need to get in a whole lot of corrective work before playing Antrim in the Ulster quarter-final on May 23.
Scorers -- Dublin: B Brogan 0-8 (2f), A Brogan 1-1, N Corkery 1-0, K McManamon 0-2 (1sl), M MacAuley, D Henry, E Fennell 0-1 each. Tyrone: S Cavanagh 0-5 (3f), M Penrose 1-1, K Coney 0-2, P Harte, K Hughes, B McGuigan 0-1 each.
Dublin -- M Savage; P Conlon, Rory O'Carroll, P McMahon; P Casey, C O'Sullivan, D Bastick; E Fennell, R McConnell; D Henry, N Corkery, P Flynn; A Hubbard, K McManamon, B Brogan. Subs: M MacAuley for McConnell (25), A Brogan for Hubbard (29), B Cahill for Bastick (35),D Connolly for Flynn (49), E O'Gara for MacAuley (63).
Tyrone -- J Curran; D Carlin, Joe McMahon, R McMenamin; D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan; A Cassidy, C Cavanagh; K Coney, B McGuigan, P Harte; M Penrose, S Cavanagh, M Donnelly. Subs: C McCarron for McMahon (14), K Hughes for Donnelly (ht), R Mellon for McGuigan (56), S O'Neill for D Harte (59), N McKenna for Coney (61).
Ref -- D Fahy (Longford)