Deadly Dubs dismantle Tyrone challenge

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Deadly Dubs dismantle Tyrone challenge thumbnailMark Bradley in possession for Tyrone.

Tyrone's dream of a fourth All-Ireland title was shattered as they suffered a painful 12-point defeat to reigning champions Dublin at Croke Park on Sunday.


While the pre-match build-up had suggested Mickey Harte's team had the physicality and belief to challenge Dublin and end their domination of the Championship in recent seasons, they simply couldn't get near the level of the holders.

Con O'Callaghan's goal after just five minutes set the tone for a miserable day at GAA headquarters as the holders methodically took control and whittled away any confidence the the Red Hands had coming into the game. Such was the supremacy of the Dubs was that their supporters on Hill 16 began cheering every possession of the ball as early as the 27th minute.

Tyrone had come up against nothing quite like their opponents on Sunday in the Championship to date. Sizeable victories over Ulster rivals Derry, Donegal, Down and Armagh had lead them to the semi-final stage, but the Dubs would present an entirely different challenge that Tyrone simply couldn't compete with.

Tyrone got off on the front foot when Mattie Donnelly won a free which Sean Cavanagh converted, but Dean Rock responded from a place ball before O'Callaghan found the net after leaving Ronan McNamee for dead and planting the ball past Niall Morgan.

Tiernan McCann backed himself from distance to split the posts, but Dublin soon resumed control of the proceedings.

Moving the ball around like pieces on a chess board, Dublin stretched and prodded the Tyrone defence, and when the gaps opened up, they penetrated to pick off easy scores.

Paddy Andrews (2) and Ciaran Kilkenny registered scores, while Morgan had to be alert to deny Paul Mannion a goal when the corner forward cut through along the end line.

Peter Harte nailed a free from the ground to offer brief respite, but Stephen Cluxton's razor-sharp restarts allowed Dublin to come straight back up the field and score within seconds through Dean Rock.

In the Tyrone attack, Mark Bradley was being well marshalled, and Tyrone struggled to break through the line of blue jerseys until Colm Cavanagh shipped a tackle and found the target in the 18th minute.

The measured play of Dublin began again, and O'Calla ghan brilliantly shimmied free to fire over before Brian Fenton landed from range after another patient build-up. Two minutes of Dublin possession passed before Colm Cavanagh's block raised a rare roar from the Tyrone faithful.

A Rock free just before half-time was followed by a Peter Harte score, Tyrone's first for 18 minutes, as half-time came with Dublin seven points up and looking increasingly like furthering that lead.

A Harte free kick was the first score of the second period, but more of the same followed as Mannion and Jack McCaffrey both got on the score-sheet for Dublin.

Niall Sludden found a rare gap in the Dublin defence to rove through and score, but ruthless Dublin moved to further stamp authority on the game in the 44th minute by introducing quality forwards Paul Flynn and Kevin McManamon to their already stellar attack department.

McManamon's impact was almost immediate as he ghosted through to crash the ball off Niall Morgan's cross bar.

Two Dean Rock frees sandwiched a McCaffrey goal chance, the wing-back flashing wide after weaving through the Tyrone defence.

Then in the 55th minute, Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh made way for Conor Meyler, bringing to an end the Moy man's illustrious 16-year career in a Tyrone jersey. Cavanagh was applauded off by all sections of the crowd on what was a difficult day to bow out of inter-county football.

Three Tyrone scores in a row, from Harte, Cavanagh and Sludden, barely offered any hope of a route back into the game as Flynn found the target twice.

Tyrone sub Declan McClure held off a few tackles to take a neat point, but the game was well and truly put to bed when Tyrone's defence was left at sea and Eoghan O'Gara palmed home a goal.

The Dublin sub registered another point just after in the 69th minute to push the lead out to 11 points, before Croke Park erupted as Diarmuid Connolly returned from his lengthy ban to the Championship to rapturous cheers.

There was further insult to injury for Tyrone as Cluxton guessed correctly to save Peter Harte's penalty after Jonny Cooper had needlessly obstructed Colm Cavanagh, before final Flynn point brought the curtain down on a day to forget for Tyrone.


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