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Tyrone power blitzes Blues

DUBLIN returned the same score as in the drawn All-Ireland quarter-final two weeks previously but the difference was that this time they conceded a massive 2-18, their highest giveaway rate in the championship since 1978.



DUBLIN returned the same score as in the drawn All-Ireland quarter-final two weeks previously but the difference was that this time they conceded a massive 2-18, which was their highest giveaway rate in the championship since the 1978 All-Ireland final when Kerry hit them for 5-11.

Therein lies the defining statistic of Saturday's clash in which Tyrone out-classed Dublin to set up an intriguing semi-final date with Armagh next Sunday. Dublin were desperate to prove that they had developed beyond being a last eight team but lacked the class to match their ambitions as Tyrone out-smarted them in so many areas.

It was a superb performance by Tyrone who are showing no signs of weariness after a long and tough campaign that has already taken in eight championship games. There was a calm, crisp methodology about everything they did, including the manner in which they set up some wonderful scores.

Still, they were helped enormously by Dublin errors, not least for the second goal when sub Declan Lally reacted a whole lot slower than Sean Cavanagh to a kick-out in the 50th minute. Cavanagh took the ball forward with power and pace, off-loaded to Owen Mulligan who bumped off an opponent before spinning into position and driving past Stephen Cluxton. Tyrone 2-11 Dublin 0-11 - contest over.

The irritating thing for Dublin was that they conceded that crucial goal after putting together probably their best spell of the championship in which they scored five unanswered points to reduce an interval deficit of 1-9 to 0-5 to just three points. With their supporters in the 81,882 crowd urging them forward, Dublin had established an impressive momentum and when Ryan Mellon fired wide under pressure, Tyrone looked seriously rattled.

Cluxton thought he had directed the subsequent kick-out carefully to Lally but, not for the first time, Cavanagh spotted an opening quicker than an opponent and pounced. With Mulligan back to his very best, the goal was always on, once Cavanagh fed him and despite the goalkeeper's best efforts, there was nothing Cluxton could do to prevent it.

But then, he had been left exposed far too often by a defence that was re-structured since the drawn game with Peadar Andrews coming in for captain, Paddy Christie and Shane Ryan dropping back from midfield to replace Coman Goggins while Darren Magee came in at midfield. Dublin kept their plans secret right up to the last minute - Christie even took the toss-up - but it served no useful purpose against a Tyrone team that started without Peter Canavan, who reputedly picked up a bug late in the week.

Teams like Tyrone aren't disrupted by opponents who trick-act with the teamsheet and it was clear from early on that Mickey Harte's boys were in a totally different mindset to the drawn game. Ominously for Dublin, Brian Dooher, who turned in an excellent performance, pointed after just 20 seconds and by the 8th minute they were 1-4 to 0-2 clear, the goal coming from a brilliantly-hit penalty by Stephen O'Neill after Stephen O'Shaughnessy had upended Cavanagh in the sixth minute.

It was the start of a very difficult day for O'Shaughnessy who was handed the unenviable job of marking a revitalised Mulligan. The extent of the task is underlined by the fact that Mulligan scored 1-5 from play which left O'Shaughnessy and Dublin in a downward spin.

Dublin's mounting problems were typified by 'Mossy' Quinn's poor free-taking. He did more than most to get Dublin to the quarter-final through his reliability on pressure frees but from the moment he fired a 40-metre effort wide in the fifth minute, it turned into a miserable day for the St Vincent's man. He blasted three more frees wide too and was eventually replaced.

He wasn't the only one to suffer a crisis of confidence as a debilitating virus spread through the team. And, to add to their woes, they lost Alan Brogan through injury in the 26th minute, a loss that effectively left them with only one forward who was capable of beating the Tyrone defence.

Conal Keaney did his best to be a one-man demolition squad but with so little support around him, there was a limit to what he could achieve against a tigerish Tyrone defence where Ryan McMenamin, Conor Gormley and Philip Jordan were especially effective.

Sean Cavanagh, Brian Dooher, Brian McGuigan, Stephen O'Neill and the brilliant Mulligan thrived further afield against a Dublin defence that badly needed the stabilising presence of Bryan Cullen, who is on attacking duty this season. It hasn't worked and it will be a major surprise if he isn't redeployed in the half-back line next year.

That will leave Dublin looking for more forwards, a search that has proved essentially fruitless of late. So much so, that they returned to veteran Dessie Farrell late on and while he poached a consolation goal, he hardly represents the future. However, he did show the positive benefits of craft and natural instinct, qualities that Dublin are lacking in so many areas.

It's all so very different for Tyrone who have so many lead acts that, so far at least, they have been able to survive despite having a problem at full-back where Chris Lawn again struggled before being replaced. But with so much quality further up, Tyrone's capacity to improvise seems endless.

It would have been interesting to see how the game developed if (a) Brogan hadn't got injured (b) Quinn's radar worked with the frees and (c) Dublin hadn't gifted Tyrone the second goal at a time when the momentum was flowing very much their way.

All three aspects were hugely significant although one suspects that if the pressure really came on, Tyrone would have had something in reserve. It's just the way they are these days.

SCORERS - Tyrone: O Mulligan 1-7 (0-2f), S O'Neill 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), B Dooher 0-3, R Mellon, S Cavanagh 0-2 each, B McGuigan 0-1. Dublin: C Keaney 0-5 (2f), D Farrell 1-0, A Brogan, T Quinn (1f) 0-2 each, B Cullen, J Sherlock, S Ryan, S Connell, C Moran 0-1 each.

TYRONE - P McConnell 6; R McMenamin 8, C Lawn 5, M McGee 7; D Harte 7, C Gormley 7, P Jordan 8; E McGinley 7, J McMahon 7; B Dooher 8, B McGuigan 8, S Cavanagh 8; R Mellon 6, S O'Neill 7, O Mulligan 9. Subs: S Sweeney 5 for Lawn (23), B Meenan 6 for Sweeney (53), E Bradley 6 for McGee (62), P Donnelly for McGinley (67). Yellow cards: C Lawn (20), M McGee (36), E McGinley (40), S Sweeney (44), B McGuigan (71).

DUBLIN - S Cluxton 7; P Andrews 5, P Griffin 6, S O'Shaughnessy 5; S Ryan 7, B Cahill 5, P Casey 6; C Whelan 7, D Magee 5; C Moran 5, C Keaney 8, B Cullen 6; J Sherlock 6, A Brogan 8, T Quinn 5. Subs: S Connell 5 for Brogan (26), D Lally 5 for Magee (ht), M Vaughan 5 for Quinn (57), D O'Callaghan 6 for Lally (59), D Farrell for Keaney (67). Yellow cards: T Quinn (20), S O'Shaughnessy (33), C Whelan (72).

REF - G Ó Conámha (Galway).

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