Cork and Tyrone share spoils in tight tie
Leesiders show grit and determination to keep in touch until second-half revival
Colm Cavanagh of Tyrone tackles Cork’s John O’Rourke in yesterday’s close-fought game. Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Cork and Tyrone served up one of those league afternoons that fills the car with talk on the way home, both sides flawed but buoyed with hope.
Supporters were left certain of nothing, but with plenty of encouragement. You couldn’t make a rock-solid case for either of them climbing the Hogan in September, but it will be a surprise if both are not still jigging long after the music has stopped for most of the rest.
Teams with forward lines this potent will generally dispose of the vast majority of sides and after that, at least they’ll have a puncher’s chance against the gilded elite. For two sides still pretty light on experience, that’s not a bad place to be at the end of March. Both could have won this and, indeed, either should have lost it.
Tyrone’s full-forward line hummed throughout the first half, stitching together all but one of their 12 points with Kyle Coney responsible for six from play alone.
Yet they only scored a single point in the 20 minutes after the restart, a worrying throwback to the meltdown in Killarney three weeks ago.
As for Cork, the credit accumulated by working out a way to turn the day around after the break was frittered by their failure to close it out. Having trailed by four points at half-time, they led by four with 10 minutes to go. When calmer heads were required, Mickey Harte was able to send Conor Gormley and Martin Penrose on to settle the side. Brian Cuthbert had no such luxury and Cork paid the price.
“Tyrone have some very good players but in that second half, they had the score board stuck at 13 for a long time,” said Cuthbert afterwards.
“After giving up 12 points in the first half, I think we kept them to a point for about 22, 23 minutes of the second. But they were able to get the last seven in about 12 or 13 minutes.
A few of them were frees and there were needless fouls at the end . . . Those mistakes cost us the game, but we’re in a position where this is all a steep learning curve . . . this is a brand new group and being able to say we’re qualified with a game to go, that’s a good place to be.”
The shower of rain that hit Cork before throw-in produced a greasy surface and an afternoon to test the mettle of the best of defenders. The home side’s fullback line suffered throughout the first half, as Coney and Darren McCurry ran riot.
McCurry’s first two points – one on the run, another after a slick dummy – were a fine appetiser. But it was Kyle Coney who supplied the main course. He ended the day with nine points, eight from play, hardly any of them straightforward. He lit up the game, a stunning reminder of the sure thing he once appeared to be.
It was only when Cork rejigged things and sent Michael Shields back to cover him for the last 20 minutes that his influence waned. By then, Tyrone were in trouble.
Cork had just about hung on to their coat-tails in that first half, an early Paul Kerrigan goal taking the blank look off their total. But Cuthbert’s side came out with real intent to turn it around, tearing the young Tyrone fullback line apart with regular ease. Colm O’Neill came off the bench to lash a goal high into Niall Morgan’s net and John O’Rourke and Colm O’Driscoll could have done the same but skied their efforts.
With Brian Hurley motoring smoothly as well, Cork looked like doing to Tyrone a reasonable impression of what Kerry had done the last time Mickey Harte’s team travelled south.
“It wasn’t so much about Killarney,” said Harte afterwards. “It was just worrying that we were going to lose that game after playing so well for 35, 40 minutes . . . So you had to do something about it. Were you going to let this build on? Or were you going to challenge? That’s what we asked the players at half-time – that we be competitive, whatever the result. And we were competitive, that’s really why we survived here and took a point.”
Tyrone hung in. Morgan nailed a 45, Coney found space for a point, Seán Cavanagh added another.
As Cork panicked, they conceded frees. Coney pointed one, Ronan O’Neill another in injury-time. Fintan Goold got one last chance but it dropped down off the post.
Drawn game, points shared.
CORK: D Hanrahan; E Cadogan, Tom Clancy, N Galvin; Tomás Clancy, M Shields (0-1), J Loughrey; A O’Sullivan, F Goold; J O’Rourke (0-2), P Kerrigan (1-0), M Collins; D Goulding, B Hurley (0-5, 0-2 free), J Hayes (0-2). Subs: J O’Sullivan for Tomás Clancy (bl card, 27 mins); C O’Neill (1-2, 0-2 frees) for Goulding (h-t); P Kelly for Cadogan (40 mins); B O’Driscoll (0-1) for Galvin (42 mins); C O’Driscoll (0-1) for Kerrigan (48 mins); A Cronin for Hayes (69 mins).
TYRONE: N Morgan (0-2, 0-1 free. 0-1 45); McCrory, R McNamee, R McKenna; T McCann, Mattie Donnelly, P Harte (0-1); C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-1); C McGinley, S McGuigan, Mark Donnelly; D McCurry (0-4, 0-2 frees), K Coney (0-9, 0-1 free), C McAliskey (0-1). Subs: D McBride for McCann, mins; R O’Neill (0-1, free) for McCurry (53 mins); C Gormley for McGinley (54 mins); M Penrose (0-1) for McAlliskey (54 mins); N McKenna for Mark Donnelly (58 mins)
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)