Tyrone blitz Monaghan to leapfrog Malachy O'Rourke's men in the Division One relegation battle
Tyrone 1-16 Monaghan 0-12
Tyrone finally chalked up a win in the 2019 Allianz League when they hammered Monaghan in a in Omagh tonight.
The two points enables them to leapfrog over their neighbours in the Division 1 table.Monaghan now find themselves mired in a battle to avoid relegation even though they beat All-Ireland champions Dublin in round one. Two of their three remaining fixtures are away against Kerry and Mayo respectively – their other game is a home tie against Cavan.
Three narrow losses on the spin – arguably they should have beaten both Roscommon and Galway – has drained their confidence and they need a rapid reversal in their fortunes or they could find themselves playing in Division 2 in 2020.
This was a crucial win for Tyrone who have a patchy record against their neighbours in league football – this was only their second win over the Farney County in their last five outings. They face Cavan (home), Dublin (away) and Galway (home) in their remaining league ties.
Peter Harte was Tyrone's top scorer with a 1-6 return and though Conor McManus hit 0-7 for the Farney County but were beaten docket long before the finish as they failed to fire in the first twenty minutes of the second half.
Realistically, a place in the final is probably beyond Tyrone at this stage – though the target will be to end the campaign on nine league points and hope that the top sides drop points in their remaining fixtures.
This was Mickey Harte's 125th league game in charge of Tyrone with a 53 percent winning rate - but scarcely did he need a win so badly. Against the odds the sides produced a thrilling encounter in the Ulster series last summer and there was more of the same in this encounter as Tyrone hit 1-1 in the first four minutes.
Mattie Donnelly and corner-back Liam Rafferty were involved in the build-up on the right flank before Peter Harte's drove an unstoppable left-footed shot past Rory Beggan in the 4th minute.
They almost had a second major three minutes later when a free from Niall Morgan – who had converted his first placed ball – rebounded off the post and Cathal McShane nearly forced the ball over the line.
But at the other end Conor McManus was single-handedly ravaging the Tyrone defence and in particular his marker Padraig Hampsey as he kicked four points – three from play in the first ten minutes to level the scores (1-2 to 0-5).
Even though both teams pulled 14 men behind the ball when they didn't have the ball the speed of the transition play courtesy of kicked passes left both defences under pressure. Tyrone's decision to use Mattie Donnelly in a forward role was paying rich dividends as they kicked three in a row to lead 1-5 to 0-5 after 20 minutes, though they were fortunate not to concede a penalty when late replacement Stephen O'Hanlon looked to have been pulled back when he skipped in along the end line.
The scoring rate dropped in the second quarter though Tyrone ought to have a second goal four minutes from the break. A sweeping movement which began with a long kick out from Niall Morgan landed into the arms of the unmarked Michael McKiernan who combined with Peter Harte and his pass put wing back Ben McDonnell clear but he blasted over with the goal at his mercy.
Monaghan had Dessie Ward black carded a minute from the break after a challenge on Ronan McNamee and Tyrone saw out the remainder of the half – there were three minutes of injury time - by playing keeping ball as the visitors withdrew everybody behind the ball.
The visitors were still down to 14 men at the start of the second half as they chased a three point deficit (1-7; 0-7). But Monaghan managed to run down the clock as Kieran Duffy took a long time to recover after taking a belt from Mattie Donnelly.
But it mattered little as Tyrone blitzed their visitors in the first twenty minutes of the second half scoring eight points without reply to lead 1-15 to 0-7 after an hour.
The rest was totally academic though Conor McManus underlined his class when by kicked three points and Ryan McAnespie hit a brace, to outscore the home side 5-1. But the quality of the Tyrone performance is underlined by the fact that having scored just 1-10 from play in their three previous matches they managed 1-8 from open play last night.
The official attendance was 5,896.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-2, 2f); L Rafferty, P Hampsey, M McKernan; T McCann, R McNamee, B McDonnell (0-1); B Kennedy, R Donnelly; M Donnelly (0-1), N Sludden (0-1), F Burns; C McShane (0-3, 2f), P Harte (1-6, 3f, 1m), K McGeary (0-1). Subs: C Meyler (0-1) for Raftery ht; D McClure for Kennedy 60m, C McAliskey for R Donnelly 66m; H Loughran for Sludden 67m
Monaghan: R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie, R Wylie; D Mone, B Kerr, R McAnespie (0-2), D Hughes, S O'Hanlon, J McCarron (0-2, 1f), S Carey; D Malone (0-1), C McManus (0-7, 3m), D Ward. Subs: K O'Connell for Kerr; C McCarthy for McCarron both 43m; V Corey for Carey 54; O Duffy for Malone 60m; M Brannigan for Ward 66m
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)