Monday 22 July 2019

Late drama sees Rossies and Tyrone share spoils

Roscommon 1-10 Tyrone 1-10

Get a grip: Roscommon’s Ultan Harney tries to get away from Mattie Donnelly during the Allianz Football League match at Dr Hyde Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Get a grip: Roscommon’s Ultan Harney tries to get away from Mattie Donnelly during the Allianz Football League match at Dr Hyde Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Drama at the death. When Cavan official Noel Mooney blew for a free on Gary Patterson, it should have been Roscommon's day.

The teams were level and deep into injury time when Patterson was felled 20 metres in front of goal. Even allowing for the strong wind blowing in their faces, it was a free the Rossies would have expected to convert and secure their second win in Division One.

However, Mooney had scarcely awarded the free when, after a coming together between a number of players from both sides, Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan hit the deck.

And after consulting with his umpires, Mooney opted to throw the ball up. Seconds later the final whistle blew and the teams shared the spoils.

Afterwards, Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham described the decision as "harsh".

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte was relieved to secure a point but pointed to the decision to black card Mattie Donnelly late in the game, which saw Tyrone finish with 14 men, as significant.

Niall Morgan of Tyrone kicks a point. Photo: Sportsfile
Niall Morgan of Tyrone kicks a point. Photo: Sportsfile

"The ref changed the decision and I'm happy he did because it'd be an awful day going back up the road with no point," Harte reflected.

"However bad it is to have one it would be worse to have none. I'd say there is a number of decisions in the game like that.

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"I would have felt Mattie Donnelly's black card was quite harsh, at a time in the game when it can make a huge difference to the outcome too."

Tyrone have sleepwalked into the league. Poor against Kerry in the opening round, they regressed further when they faced Mayo last weekend. Yesterday at least there was signs of life.

When Ultan Harney stole in ahead of Morgan under a high delivery for a goal early in the second half, Tyrone trailed by seven. The strong wind that was at their backs at that stage gave them hope, but it still looked like a long way back.

Still, looking down the barrel of a third consecutive defeat and a relegation dog fight, they found a way. That Roscommon goal in the 43rd minute proved to be the home side's last score.

Tyrone responded in rapid fashion when Cathal McShane flicked a Kyle Coney centre to the net. Morgan chipped in with three second half points, the last of which came from play, to put the sides on level terms in the 67th minute.

For Harte it was a response to some strong criticism of their performance against Mayo, led by former star Owen Mulligan.

"I didn't doubt them at all. We certainly didn't have a great day against Mayo but I never doubted what these players are capable of doing or the energy and effort that they put in to what they do, so I have total respect for them.

"Others maybe don't hold that respect as long as they might do, they are very reactive to what they see so you don't judge people on one performance.

"Of course, you'd be alarmed if it is not as good as it ought to be and you know the players can do better than that and I think today they proved they can do much better. It was a good response to a very lacklustre performance against Mayo."

Tyrone grabbed their first point of the league campaign while Roscommon moved to three. Cunningham's side looked slick in the first half. Seven different players kicked all of their ten first-half points from play. They'd bring plenty of bodies back but flood forward too.

Kerry-born Conor Cox was brilliant in the opening period, kicking three points. His marker Ciaran McLaughlin was called ashore before half-time, at which stage the home side led by 0-10 to 0-4.

"He got great scores in the first half in very tight situations," Cunningham said. "Hopefully we will have a few more players to come back in for the latter rounds of the league.

"We are still down quite a number of players but the guys that have been handed those jerseys are making it very hard to take it off them."

Shane Killoran, Harney and Niall Kilroy covered an ocean of ground in a display that showed they won't be a pushover for anyone in the division.

"For us this was progress, we are disappointed we did not get over the line but we were playing a very good team," Cunningham added.

"We really stood up to the elements and to the physicality of Tyrone and I thought we came out of it with flying colours.

And the controversial final decision? "I think in a lot of situations you don't get them overturned. It was quite harsh. We just take the referee's decision but it was strange enough one."

Tyrone got a first point on the board but Harte admitted his side are looking over their shoulders.

"All the points that remain are crucial now because there's three gone and only four games left and we need points from that.

"People don't think it too difficult to come to Omagh and get points so we can't say we have a fortress in Omagh so we have a home game [next, against Monaghan] and we have to make the best of it.

"We have to go to Dublin which is not easy any day of the week and Galway coming to us so there is no easy run-in and points are hard to come by. We need to be in the business of getting some."

SCORERS - Roscommon: U Harney 1-1, C Cox 0-3, S Killoran 0-2, C Daly, R Daly, D Smith, N Kilroy 0-1 each. Tyrone: P Harte 0-5 (5f), N Morgan 0-3 (2f), C McShane 1-0, D McCurry, R McNamee 0-1

Roscommon - D O'Malley 6; D Murray 6, C Daly 7, E McGrath 6; C Hussey 7, S Killoran 8, R Daly 7; T O'Rourke 6, E Smith 7; C Devaney 8, U Harney 7, N Kilroy 8; C Cox 8, D Smith 7, C Cregg 7 Subs: C Compton 6 for Cregg (53), G Patterson 6 for Kilroy (56), H Darcy for O'Rourke (63), A Lyons for Cox (69).

Tyrone - N Morgan 8; R Brennan 7, R McNamee 6, C McLaughlin 5; T McCann 7, B McDonnell 6, M McKernan 6; B Kennedy 6, P Hampsey 7; M Donnelly 6, N Sludden 6, P Harte 7; D McCurry 7, C McShane 7, K McGeary 7 Subs: C Meyler 7 for McLaughlin (28), HP Geary 6 for McNamee (31), K Coney 7 for Sludden (40), H Loughran 6 for McDonnell (51), F Burns 6 for R Brennan (59).

Ref - N Mooney (Cavan)

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