Tyrone juggernaut pulverises feeble Armagh
Tyrone 3-17 Armagh 0-8
Ulster champions Tyrone reached their second All-Ireland semi-final in three years as they hammered Armagh. Even if the victory was widely anticipated, it was a relief for Red Hand boss Mickey Harte as his side had stumbled at the quarter-final stage against Mayo last year.
Whether Tyrone can go one step further and reach their first All-Ireland final since 2008 remains a moot point, but this victory ought to ensure Harte gets an extension of his contract.
They were never trouble in a decidedly one-sided affair in which Armagh had three players - Mark Shields, Stephen Sheridan and Rory Grugan - black carded and played the last ten minutes with 14 men, having used all their substitutes.
Not that it mattered in the slightest as Tyrone had the contest effectively wrapped up after the first quarter when they led 1-5 to 0-0. They were seven clear at the break, and on the day that Sean Cavanagh made his 88th championship appearance they were 18 ahead at the final whistle.
The gulf in class between the sides was evident from virtually the throw-in. Just 57 seconds had elapsed when Tyrone sweeper Colm Cavanagh opened the scoring.
This pattern was repeated throughout a woefully one-sided first quarter, though Armagh didn't help their cause by squandering their first three scoring chances - they dropped one shot short and kicked two wides.
By then Tyrone were four points up and looking comfortable, though not creating any goal chances. The big difference between the sides was their speed of transition. When defending, the only player in the Armagh half was Mark Bradley, but once they had possession they moved the ball with speed and had numerous options.
In contrast Armagh's build-up was slow and ponderous and by the time they reached the Tyrone 45-metre line, the Red Hand's blanket defence was in place and they didn't have players capable of hitting long-range points.
Armagh's woes were compounded after 17 minutes when they conceded a needless goal. Tyrone's pressure on Blaine Hughes's kick-outs paid dividends as the excellent Peter Harte stole one and his pass sent the impressive Bradley through.
The Armagh defence looked to have him covered but James Morgan was penalised for a pull on Bradley as he jinked inside, and Harte calmly slotted the penalty to the net to leave the Orchard County 1-5 to 0-0 adrift.
In fairness Armagh did improve in the second quarter, outscoring Tyrone four points to three.
But Gavin Parland was their only forward to score from play and Tyrone seemed to be playing within themselves, through their finishing became ragged.
Having replaced centre-forward Ciaran O'Hanlon five minutes from the break Armagh were forced to made an unscheduled change three minutes later when Shields was black-carded after pulling down the rampaging Harte.
Armagh's first-half performance was summed up when in the last play of the half Grugan missed a free, which left Tyrone in control at the break at 1-8 to 0-4.
Armagh had an abundance of possession in the early stages of the second half but again they found it difficult to penetrate Tyrone's massed defence. And typically of the pattern of the game, Tyrone got the first score of the half - a free from goalkeeper Niall Morgan after a foul on Harte.
Finally, after 46 minutes Jamie Clarke - who was finding it difficult to escape the clutches of Cathal McCarron - scored Armagh's first point of the second half. The margin was eight and Armagh's frustration was boiling over, with Gavin McParland - who was later substituted along with his colleague in the full-forward line Stefan Campbell - and Clarke were booked.
The game was put beyond all doubt in the 55th minute when Tyrone substitute David Mulgrew got on the end of a diagonal through-ball and found the net.
As the rain poured down, the rest of the game was a mess. Armagh, in particular, lost their defensive shape and their discipline. Sheridan and Grugan were black-carded, though Tyrone's Cathal McCarron was also sent off after picking up two yellow cards in the space of two minutes.
Mulgrew embellished his claim for a starting spot the next day when he scored his second goal in the 63rd minute to bring his tally to 2-1 on a day when Tyrone had ten different scorers.
Scorers - Tyrone: D Mulgrew 2-1, P Harte 1-2 (1-0 pen), S Cavanagh 0-4 (3f), M Bradley 0-3, N Morgan 0-2 (2f), T McCann, C Cavanagh,D McClure, M Donnelly, D McCurry all 0-1 each; Armagh: R Grugan 0-3 (2f), M Shields, P Hughes, N Grimley (f), J Clarke, G McParland all 0-1 each.
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McRory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, P Hampsey, P Harte; C Cavanagh, C McCann; M Donnelly, N Sludden, K McGeary; M Bradley, S Cavanagh, D McClure. Subs: D McCurry for McGeary (44), D Mulgrew for C McCann (44), R O'Neill for Bradley (50), R Brennan for McRory (50), R Donnelly for McClure (58), J McMahon for C Cavanagh (59)
Armagh: B Hughes; J Morgan, C Vernon, P Hughes; J McElroy, B Donaghy, M Shields; S Sheridan, N Grimley; R Grugan, C O'Hanlon, A Forker; J Clarke, S Campbell, G McParland. Subs: O O'Neill for O'Hanlon (30), A Duffy for Shields BC (33), E Rafferty for Campbell (46), B Crealey for McParland (51), C McKeever for Grimley (55), D McKenna for Sheridan BC (58)
Referee: D Gough (Meath)
Sunday Indo Sport