Saturday 16 December 2017

Harte bewildered as Farney knock Tyrone's lights out

Monaghan 1-13 Tyrone 0-9

Darren Hughes, Monaghan, in action against PJ Lavery, Tyrone
Darren Hughes, Monaghan, in action against PJ Lavery, Tyrone
Sean Cavanagh, Tyrone, in action against Dermot Malone, Monaghan
Dermot Malone, Monaghan, in action against Barry Tierney, Tyrone
Daniel McKenna, Monaghan, in action against Cathal McCarron, Tyrone
Healy Park in darkness last night after the floodlights failed
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

When the lights went out in Healy Park, it seemed fate had intervened to save Tyrone.

There was almost five minutes gone in the second half when the floodlights failed. Monaghan had kicked three points since the restart to take the lead for the first time and with the aid of a breeze, looked to be building a match-winning momentum.

Almost a full half hour passed before the sides re-emerged from the dressing-rooms. It was a second chance for Tyrone but they couldn't make a better fist of things then either.

Indeed almost 40 minutes of football passed between their seventh and eighth points. In that time, the game had turned on its head.

It had all gone to plan for Tyrone in the opening 20 minutes. By the time Darren McCurry dropped over a wind-assisted free from a good 50 metres out, the home side were 0-7 to 0-2 up. They might have been further ahead but a seemingly good 'score' from Mattie Donnelly was deemed wide by the officials.


To that point, Monaghan had managed two points through a brilliant Dessie Mone effort and a Kieran Hughes free but they finished strong, rattling off the last three points of the half to close the gap to two points at the break (0-7 to 0-5).

By that stage, Monaghan had abandoned their sweeper system, going man for man, and their bolder approach continued to reap rewards on the restart.

Immediately after light was restored, the influential Donnelly was shown a black card and Monaghan stretched their legs for home. Darren Hughes was utterly dominant in midfield, while Tyrone, not for the first time this year, struggled there.

Sean Cavanagh had started at full-forward but his effectiveness was limited after he took a knock to the head from Drew Wylie. The blow caused a slight delay but Mickey Harte insisted he was fine to continue despite a "mild concussion".

In the McKenna Cup final, Tyrone's medics insisted Peter Harte be removed from the field after a similar bang and he didn't feature on Saturday night.

"For a while we didn't know if he was going to have to come off because he had a slight, mild concussion, he got a bang above the eye," Mickey Harte said.

"After some deliberation with the medical people he decided he wanted to stay on and it wasn't serious enough for the medics to have to take him off. He wanted to play and he showed why as he put a lot of energy into it even after."

Even Cavanagh's promptings couldn't urge Tyrone into life. When Mone landed his second excellent point of the night, the visitors were four points up. Niall Morgan's free ended Tyrone's 40-minute barren spell and closed the gap to three points with just over ten minutes to play.

However, any thoughts of a late rally were quashed almost immediately.

Monaghan had been breaking out of defence to good effect for most of the night and when Kieran Hughes cleverly flicked a direct ball perfectly into Stephen Gollogly's path, Morgan was left exposed. The Carrickmacross man goaled to secure the points.

It meant a first league win in Omagh since 1988 for the Farney men and another display of Tyrone's ability to go AWOL. Against Cavan in the McKenna Cup final, they managed just a point from play in the first half before recovering.

This time, when Monaghan got on top, there was no way back. They managed one point from play from the 20th minute until the end and two points in total.

Their misery was compounded when Colm Cavanagh was sent off on a second yellow card late on. "It gave us another chance to regroup," Harte said of the power failure. "Elements were against us but we still thought we could salvage something.

"And then when Mattie was sent off it was a big, big blow to us and just as the game went on things went from bad to worse.

"It's very hard to explain, it's hard to explain how we could play so well for the first period of time and then looking almost lethargic for such a long period after it."

Monaghan won and did so without some of their pillars. Captain Conor McManus didn't start with a hip problem while fellow All Star Colin Walshe is on the long-term injury list along with midfielder Owen Lennon. New faces Ryan McAnespie and Daniel McKenna fitted into the side with the minimum of fuss.

"After the McKenna Cup we weren't too sure where we stood," manager Malachy O'Rourke said.


"We just got three games in it but we knew we were training well and we put a lot of work in. Tyrone were more match sharp than we were and that probably showed in the first 20 minutes. Once we weathered the storm we were the better team overall."

Monaghan welcome Cork to Castleblayney on Sunday while Tyrone head for Castlebar.

"It's a home game, it's two points lost and going to Mayo looking for two more doesn't seem an easy task now," Harte said. "It seems even more of a challenge, but it's one we have to go and face."

Man of the Match: Darren Hughes

Scorers - Monaghan: S Gollogly 1-1, D McKenna (1f), P Finlay (2fs), K Hughes, D Mone 0-2 each, R McAnespie, D Malone, D Hughes, C McManus 0-1 each. Tyrone: D McCurry 0-4 (3fs), P Hughes 0-2, A McCrory, S Cavanagh (1f), N Morgan (f) 0-1 each.

Monaghan - R Beggan 6; F Kelly 7, D Wylie 8, R Wylie 7; D Mone 8, N McAdam 7, K Duffy 6; D Hughes 9, D Clerkin 6; K Hughes 8, S Gollogly 8, C Boyle 7; D Malone 7, D McKenna 8, R McAnespie 7. Subs: P Finlay 7 for Clerkin (51), C McManus 7 for McKenna (60), V Corey 6 for Kelly (62), O Duffy for K Hughes (68).

Tyrone - N Morgan 7; A McCrory 7, R McNamee 6, C McCarron 6; R McNabb 6, M Donnelly 6, B Tierney 5; C Cavanagh 5, P McNulty 5; PJ Lavery 6, R O'Neill 6, P Hughes 7; D McCurry 6, S Cavanagh 6, N McKenna 5. Subs: S McGuigan 6 for Lavery, C McCann 6 for Hughes (both 40), T McCann 6 for Donnelly (41 BC), C McAliskey 6 for McKenna (51).

Ref - P Hughes (Armagh)

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