Wednesday 15 August 2018

Jim Gavin hails Dublin defence as Blues show their steel

Dublin 1-14 Tyrone 0-14

Dublin’s James McCarthy reacts quickest to score the only goal of the game in Healy Park on Saturday. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Dublin’s James McCarthy reacts quickest to score the only goal of the game in Healy Park on Saturday. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

When the history of this great Dublin team comes to be written, a three-point win in Omagh is unlikely to be hard on the ink.

On the face of it, this was a means to an end: A second win in the 'Super 8s' and a spot in the last four in their race for four assured.

James McCarthy of Dublin goes past Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone on his way to scoring his sides first goal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
James McCarthy of Dublin goes past Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone on his way to scoring his sides first goal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

They move on to face Roscommon now in Croke Park in what is officially their home game. There'll be nothing on the line, the Dubs are already through and Roscommon are already out.

Proved

It's business as usual, but in Healy Park on Saturday night they proved another point: playing championship football outside of Croke Park against top-level opposition makes little difference to them.

When Gavin was asked about the trip up north, he spoke of the day out the Dublin fans enjoyed, the welcome they received and the economic benefits for Omagh. But surely there was a deep satisfaction in the manner of this win.

His side have drawn plaudits in the past for their swashbuckling football, but this win was built on more earthy facets of their play.

Ciaran Kilkenny of Dublin. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ciaran Kilkenny of Dublin. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Their desire for work, intensity in the tackle and application were of the highest level.

And on a pitch that had been narrowed - Mickey Harte would reveal afterwards that the sideline had been pulled in to accommodate a request from Sky Sports, who wanted more room for their equipment - they underlined their greatness.

Perhaps that was best summed up in one moment in the first-half. Tyrone managed one clear sight of goal in the game and that came when Conor Meyler looked clear of the cover on 23 minutes.

However, just as he looked set to gather possession, Paul Mannion, nominally a corner-forward, hit him with a brilliant tackle to turn over the ball. That dispossession set in play a move that would eventually see Philly McMahon tag on a point, making what might have been a two-point deficit a two-point advantage.

Richard Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Brian Howard of Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Richard Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Brian Howard of Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The Dubs were operating at close to maximum efficiency. They kicked just four wides all game and they didn't kick the first of those until the 30th minute when Brian Howard, who was excellent once again, miscued.

Tyrone weren't as economical. When Mickey Harte goes through the video this week he'll see that they could have asked even more questions of Dublin.

Tyrone were always close, but they never led at any point. They kicked nine wides in total, including one from a late Ronan O'Neill free that slipped wide of the posts when a point would have put the minimum between the teams with just a couple of minutes' injury-time to play.

That miss halted the considerable momentum Tyrone had built up. Harte's side trailed by just two points at the break and cut the gap to one immediately after the restart before the game's crucial score on 40 minutes.

Mattie Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Ciarán Kilkenny of Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Mattie Donnelly of Tyrone in action against Ciarán Kilkenny of Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ciarán Kilkenny did brilliantly to work possession from one side of the pitch to the other and find James McCarthy. The Ballymun man found himself with space to run into and opened his legs. He swapped passes with Brian Fenton and burst through the Tyrone cover.

Niall Morgan did well to save his initial shot, but McCarthy flicked the rebound to the net and put Dublin firmly in control.

Dublin's lead at that point soon extended to six points with just over 10 minutes to go before Harte's men produced arguably their best period of football in some time.

Three points in four minutes for Mark Bradley, McShane and Peter Harte cut the gap to a goal. Dublin hit back with two of their own to go five clear on 64 minutes, but Tyrone refused to give in and rattled off three more points without reply, including two from the excellent Kieran McGeary.

Three minutes of the five allowed for injury-time had been played when O'Neill missed his free. With that went Tyrone's chance and Dublin tacked on the last two points of the game to take a deserved, but hard-fought win after their most competitive championship game since last year's All-Ireland final.

"We drove hard at Tyrone and got some great scores and defensively we looked strong as well," Gavin reflected.

"We knew going into the game they had put up big scores in the last five games and it's a credit to the system Mickey has, they are a very potent attacking unit."

Gavin insisted that he's unlikely to change tack in terms of team selection for the final game of the Super 8s, but expressed satisfaction that his side improved from their display against Donegal.

"I think it was up a bit and it had to be. Tyrone were coming into this game with a lot of momentum you saw the scores they are putting up. It gave them great confidence coming into it and we knew it was going to be a massive challenge.

"Again our players left everything on the pitch, as the Tyrone boys did as well, so it was a little better than last week. Will it be good enough going forward? Only time will tell."

SCORERS - Dublin: D Rock 0-6 (4f), J McCarthy 1-0, C Kilkenny 0-2, B Howard, P McMahon, K McManamon, J Small, J McCaffrey, P Flynn 0-1 each.   

Tyrone: P Harte 0-3 (2f), C McAlliskey (1 45), C McShane, K McGeary 0-2 each, M Bradley, F Burns, M McKernan, T McCann, H Loughran 0-1 each.   

Dublin - S Cluxton 8; J Cooper 8, P McMahon 6, E Murchan 7; J Small 6, C O'Sullivan 7, J McCaffrey 8; J McCarthy 8, B Fenton 7; N Scully 6, C O'Callaghan 6, B Howard 8; P Mannion 6, D Rock 7, C Kilkenny 8 Subs: C Costello 6 for Mannion (46), K McManamon 6 for Scully (51), M Fitzsimons 6 for McMahon (58), P Flynn 7 for Howard (60), D Daly for Small (65), MD Macauley for McCarthy (68), 

Tyrone - N Morgan 7; M McKernan 8, R McNamee 6, HP McGeary 7; T McCann 7, M Donnelly 7, F Burns 7; C Cavanagh 7, P Hampsey 7; N Sludden 7, P Harte 7, C Meyler 7; C McShane 8, R Donnelly 7, C McAlliskey 7 Subs: R Brennan 8 for McNamee (34), M Bradley 7 for McAlliskey (52), K McGeary 8 for Burns (53), D McClure 6 for Cavanagh (60), H Loughran for Meyler (65), R O'Neill for Sludden (71)

Ref - D Coldrick (Meath)

All-Ireland SFC 'Super 8s'

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