Saturday 23 November 2019

Rock goal earns late point for Dubs

Dublin 1-9 Tyrone 0-12

Nicky Devereux has a shot blocked by Tyrone's Niall Morgan
Nicky Devereux has a shot blocked by Tyrone's Niall Morgan
Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton punches a ball clear from Peter Hart, Tyrone and Rory O'Carroll, Dublin.
Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh does well to keep the ball in play up against Dublin's Eoin Culligan
Dublin's Paddy Andrews has a shot charged down by Tiernan McCann and Justin McMahon, Tyrone
Colm Cavanagh, Tyrone, breaks through a tackle from Dublin's Dean Rock

Francis Mooney

Dean Rock rescued a point for Dublin with a late goal, but Jim Gavin's side could be heading for a relegation battle after failing to win three of their four NFL ties.

The mis-firing Dubs came up against dogged Tyrone resistance at GAA Headquarters on a frustrating evening that ended with them salvaging a scarcely deserved draw

They managed just five points from play, and Rock's 1-6 haul was one bright light that shone on an otherwise dull and worrying evening for the Leinster men.

A crowd of 27,469 turned up to watch a Croke Park double bill that produced little in the way of joy for neither the Metropolitan's hurlers or footballers.

But all credit to the visitors from Ulster, who defended heroically if somewhat desperately at times, and almost took both points with the economy of their finishing on the breakaway.

Tyrone relaxed the extreme defensive approach which had proved so effective in recent weeks, wary of the danger of inviting Dublin's runners to cause damage from deep, and the opening half went very much to plan.

After eight minutes they were ahead by 0-3 to 0-1, with Justin McMahon claiming a rare point and Sean Cavanagh converting two frees, one of them confirmed by Hawk-Eye after the lofted effort had clipped the tip of an upright.

Dublin struggled to break through a wall of white shirts, but an incisive move involving Jonny Cooper and Kevin McManamon finished with Dean Rock sweeping over his second score on 12 minutes.

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Bernard Brogan, making his first start of the season, brought the sides level, but a Red Hand effort based on hard graft and discipline saw them restore their two points lead, with rookie midfielder Padraig McNulty skipping past two defenders to clip over a morale-boosting score.

McManamon and Brogan were forced out the field by effective markers Cathal McCarron and Ronan McNamee, but Dublin almost had a goal in the 21st minute when

Nicky Devereux latched on to the rebound after Brogan's effort had come back off a post, but his snapshot was smothered by goalkeeper Niall Morgan.

Philly McMahon and Jack McCaffrey began to make inroads from the back, and with Tomas Brady picking up breaking ball around the middle, they got themselves on top in the final ten minutes of the half.

Rock steered over three more frees to bring his tally to five, and at the break, the sides were deadlocked on 0-6 each.

Jim Gavin fortified his attack with the introduction of Eoghan O'Gara and Paul Flynn, but the frustration continued as they were forced to shoot from distance by a packed defence.

Tyrone were dangerous on the break, and Jonny Cooper had to show all his defensive qualities to deny Aidan McCrory and later Padraig McNulty.

Picking their moments to commit men to the offensive effort only when it was safe to do so, the Red Hands went two ahead when Mattie Donnelly and Barry Tierney both darted into gaps to despatch tidy scores.

McManamon was relieved to see the excellent McCarron go off injured after 54 minutes, and soon afterwards Dublin went level for the fifth time through Flynn.

But Tyrone had the measure of their opponents in other areas also. The introduction of Cian O'Sullivan failed to blunt the effectiveness of midfield pair McNulty and Colm Cavanagh, who won lots of dirty ball that set up the attacks that debutant Mark Bradley and McCurry converted.

Cluxton had to be brave to smother a Tiernan McCann effort after Donnelly had prised open the Dublin cover.

But in the dying moments, the Dubs rescued the game when O'Gara crossed for Rock to punch home the game's only goal at the far post. Morgan had a chance to win it but his free drifted wide.

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