Super Red Hands make light work of rudderless Rebels
Tyrone 3-20 Cork 0-13
Tyrone blasted their way into the Super 8 with the most comfortable of victories over a Cork side that face a winter of reflection as they seek to find answers to the horrors of the past few weeks. The Munster men could not handle a Red Hand system which, despite a few significant tweaks, delivered efficiently - goals from Connor McAliskey, Ronan O'Neill and Mark Bradley putting a gloss on a satisfactory evening's work in the scorching midland sun.
Tyrone have lacked direction and exuded uncertainty at almost every stage of this journey, from their first-round Ulster championship elimination at the hands of Monaghan through a challenging qualifier run. But not on this occasion.
Last night they put their best foot forward, performing with assurance and an affirming level of maturity that will be an essential quality if they are to make their mark in the Super 8.
A demanding and potentially debilitating schedule continues. The book closes on the back-door series, and with almost indecent haste, they launch themselves straight into the All-Ireland quarter-final round-robin series with a tie against Roscommon next weekend.
Tyrone could have had a couple of goals in the opening ten minutes, but Cork goalkeeper Mark White stuck out a foot to deny Conor Meyler, and he was also equal to Peter Harte's driven effort after Richie Donnelly had provided the defence-splitting pass.
They were 0-4 to 0-1 ahead by the 14th minute, with Niall Sludden, Frank Burns and Colm Cavanagh on target, but they too were opened up at the back as Cork, with Brian O'Driscoll and Mark Collins driving forward, created goal chances.
Niall Morgan deflected a Michael Hurley shot over the bar, and dashed off his line to smother a Luke Connolly effort, after O'Driscoll and Kevin Flahive had combined.
Three converted frees from Connolly and a Ruairi Deane effort kept Cork in touch in the opening quarter, but Tyrone scored six of the last seven points of the opening half to take control.
Sludden, McAliskey and Cathal McShane, who was proving an effective outlet for Morgan's long, searching kick-outs, all found the target as the Red Hands turned around with a 0-10 to 0-5 interval lead.
Cork did create a decent amount of scoring chances in those latter stages, but poor finishing hampered their efforts and left them with a massive task.
Mattie Donnelly added solidity to the centre of Tyrone's defence, and with Harte given the freedom to push forward, they looked assured and sure-minded in terms of the direction they were headed.
Cork struggled to track the runners, and with a purity of movement, they crafted a classy score for Richie Donnelly, followed instantly by a 52nd-minute goal from McAliskey, who cut inside James Loughrey and buried his shot in the bottom corner.
McAliskey had bagged 1-6 by the time he was withdrawn in the 51st minute, and his replacement O'Neill marked his arrival by palming a Harte assist to the net to open up a 12-point lead.
Cork played the final ten minutes with 14 men following the straight red card dismissal of Collins, as the Red Hands completed the job with O'Neill and Mattie Donnelly stroking over late scores, and Mark Bradley striking a third goal, as the margin of victory stretched beyond what would have offered any kind of solace to a Cork team seeking to exorcise the ghost of the Munster final loss to Kerry.
Scorers - Tyrone: C McAliskey 1-6 (0-4f); R O'Neill 1-2 (0-2f); M Bradley 1-0; C McShane, F Burns 0-3 each; N Sludden 0-2; Peter Harte (f), C Cavanagh, M Donnelly, R Donnelly 0-1 each. Cork: L Connolly 0-9 (6f, 1 '45); M Collins 0-2; M Hurley, R Deane 0-1 each.
Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, F Burns, P Harte; C Cavanagh, P Hampsey; M Donnelly, N Sludden, C Meyler; C McShane, R Donnelly, C McAliskey. Subs: R O'Neill for McAliskey (49), K McGeary for McShane (51), M Bradley for Harte (53), A McCrory for McKernan (55), S Ryan for Flahive (51), HP McGeary for McNamee (57), R Brennan for Burns (62).
Cork: M White; J Loughrey, J O'Sullivan, K Crowley; K Flahive, S Cronin, C Kiely; I Maguire, B O'Driscoll; S White, M Collins, R Deane; L Connolly, B Hurley, M Hurley. Subs: K O'Hanlon for O'Sullivan (33), P Kerrigan for Cronin (40), D O'Connor for B Hurley (46), M Taylor for O'Driscoll (49), R O'Toole for White (53)
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).
Sunday Indo Sport