Saturday 17 August 2019

Peter Harte kicks nine points as Tyrone prove too strong for Longford

Tyrone 2-15 Longford 1-14

Padraig McCormack of Longford is tackled by Michael McKernan, left, and Michael Cassidy of Tyrone
Padraig McCormack of Longford is tackled by Michael McKernan, left, and Michael Cassidy of Tyrone

John Brennan

Yes, Tyrone got two soft goals in the first half. But every minute of this round two football qualifier at Pearse Park screamed one thing at you - this was a Division One League team playing against Division Three opposition.

Tyrone were simply too fast, too physical, too clinical and too well schooled to get into any trouble in this game once they had bagged those early gifts of goals.

Full-forward Cathal McShane got both of them as Longford could not cope with the pace and movement of a team who, after all, played in the All-Ireland Final nine months ago.

For Tyrone this was all about steading the ship after a very poor outing against Donegal earlier this month.

In truth, this was more like the old Tyrone with their transition from defence to attack being excellent.

Then once the lead was secured, Tyrone brought all the recent experience of the big-time to bear.

Don't let the final scoreline fool you. Longford got the last four scores of the match, the last of all a goal, to put a gloss on the day. But the Tyrone package was all too much for Longford.

Michael Quinn, Colm P Smyth and Daniel Mimnagh played well, but they could not stem the tide. Maybe it is just best if Longford write off this year.

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With four of the finest footballers in the county not committing to the Championship panel, the home team's chances of doing much this year were always slim.

Perhaps chastened by that loss to Donegal in the Ulster semi-final, Tyrone reverted to their old defensive style in the opening minutes despite playing with whatever assistance was in a light breeze on a lovely summer's evening in the midlands.

But it was rather like a cat trying to snare a mouse.

Tyrone knew what they were doing as they waited for the home team to make a mistake.

It duly arrived in the ninth minute when Longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum tried a short kick-out. The penalty for getting it wrong is huge and so it proved when Collum steered the ball to Tyrone's Niall Sludden. He centred the ball quickly to Cathal McShane who stuck it in the net at the second attempt.

It was a massive blow to Longford. The last thing they needed to do was give Tyrone a lead and with Peter Harte converting frees on either side of the goal, the Ulster side were already five points to the good.

Things got even better for Mickey Harte's side with the second goal.

You can talk about tactics and systems and styles and then you can go old school, and bomb the ball at a big full-forward.

That's what wing-back Michael Cassidy did and McShane fisted the sphere to the net.

Simple, straightforward, and as McShane proved time and again during the Allianz League this year when he beat better defences than Longford's, it works.

Longford were finding Tyrone's massed defence a massive obstacle that they simply could not conquer.

Half an hour passed and David McGivney's frees were keeping them alive.

They got to that point of the match with just Daniel Mimnagh's first-minute score their only successful effort from play.

Longford were learning that to prise open this Tyrone defensive web a forward such as Michael Murphy or Paul Mannion comes in handy. And they simply did not have anyone of that calibre to call on.

The second half was a lacklustre affair that had many of the 4,162 crowd drifting to the exits long before the end.

Tyrone were not going to make the mistake that would let their hosts back into the game with a goal, while Longford did not have the football nous or attacking power to force the mistake that might have brought them that much-needed second half goal. Not until it was too late, anyway.

Peter Harte would finish the day with nine points in a fine effort that showed how much he was missed following that black card against Donegal.

If there is an issue for Mickey Harte to work on before next weekend it is that Harte and McShane scored so much of their final total, all but four points of it in fact.

Scorers - Tyrone - C. McShane 2-2 P. Harte 0-9 7 f's HP McGeary 0-1 M. Cassidy 0-1 B. McDonnell 0-2

Longford - D. McGivney 0-4 all frees CP Smyth 0-3 I. O'Sullivan 1-0 B McKeon 0-2 1 f M. Quinn 0-2 D. Mimnagh 0-1 J.Hagan 0-1

Teams

Longford - P. Collum: P. Fox, D. McElligott, CP Smyth, P. McCormack, D. Quinn; J. Keegan, D. McGivney; G. Rogers, B. McKeon, M. Quinn; D. Mimnagh, J. McGivney, J. Hagan. Subs- A. McElligott for Rogers 43mins D. Doherty for B. O'Farrell 55mins A.Farrell for Keegan 57mins M. Hughes for J. McGivney and S. Kenny for Mimnagh 62mins I.O'Sullivan for Hagen 68mins

Tyrone - N. Morgan; HP mcGeary, R. McNamee, M. McKernan; M. Cassidy, K. McGeary, F. Burns; C. Cavanagh, B. Kennedy; M. Donnelly, N. Sludden, P. Harte; D. McCurry, C. McShane, D. McClure. Subs- C. Meyler for K. McGeary and B. McDonnell for Kennedy both ht R. Brennan for McKernan 43mins K. Coney for McClure and C. McAliskey for McCurry both 56mins C.McCann for Sludden 65mins

Referee - D. O'Mahoney (Tipperary)

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