Diarmuid Connolly’s glorious winning point earns Dublin a semi-final place against Cork

Tyrone’s brave comeback falls just short as holders snatch last-four spot with final score in a rivetting encounter

Tyrone’s Mark Donnelly gets away from  Dublin’s Alan Brogan during the league clash at Healy Park, Omagh. Photo: Russell Pritchard/Inpho

Tyrone’s Mark Donnelly gets away from Dublin’s Alan Brogan during the league clash at Healy Park, Omagh. Photo: Russell Pritchard/Inpho

Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 01:00

Dublin 3-10 Tyrone 1-15

This fixture has an interesting modern history. Diarmuid Connolly’s breath-taking point from 40 metres – pirouetting in heavy traffic, switching from right to left – just about got Dublin into the league semi-finals to defend their Allianz League title next week against Cork.

Tyrone needed only a draw and in the last minute of ordinary time, drew level for the first time all day when Matthew Donnelly hoisted a great point after a penetrating run. Last year it was a late push by Dublin in the final against Tyrone that won it in the first place.

It was Connolly’s seven points from play in a quarter-final against the same opposition that launched Dublin on the way to the 2011 All-Ireland. A year previously they had come here to Omagh and given a strong suggestion of what was to come, relegating Tyrone in the process.

This time it just cost Mickey Harte’s team a place in the semi-finals but after an extraordinary afternoon at Healy Park before 9,327 spectators, that was frustrating – a sentiment that would have looked far-fetched after five minutes by which stage they had been blitzed by Dublin to trail by seven, 2-1 to zero.

To make bad worse for Mickey Harte’s team, full back Ronan McNamee was shown a black card for fouling Eoghan O’Gara in the fourth minute.

Whereas Tyrone did well to recover and actually level the match by the 70th minute, they had ultimately left themselves too much to do and when Seán Cavanagh sent his team’s last chance wide, the final whistle sounded.

It was a riveting match. Even before Dublin sprang out of the blocks, manager Jim Gavin had created as much confusion amongst onlookers as he would in the Tyrone defence by making four changes to a team that had been circulated an hour before the match.

Philip McMahon (wearing Darren Daly’s jersey), Jack McCaffrey, Jason Whelan and Bryan Cullen all appeared at the start with Daly, Cian O’Sullivan, Paddy Andrews and Bernard Brogan dropping out.

Second goal
James McCarthy got the show on the road after 30 seconds, gliding through to lob goalkeeper Niall Morgan for a goal added to less than a minute later when Whelan ran onto a pass from Michael Dara Macauley and slotted the second goal.

Points were exchanged between Darren McCurry – the sole focus of home resistance in the early stages – and Connolly, McManamon and Cullen before Dublin’s lead reached its high point in the 16th minute.

They were finding vast tracts of free space in attack and as Eoghan O’Gara ran decoy runs all over the inside line to the consternation of the defence, Macauley spirited into open ground McManamon ran in from the right and picked him out for a well-taken goal.

Tyrone’s rebound from trailing 0-3 to 3-3 was impressive but Dublin effectively clocked off for the second and third quarters, managing just 0-3 in the middle half of the match while Mickey Harte’s side clawed their way back into it.

Goalkeeper Morgan was the most reliable, steering his place kicks into the heart of the gusts to flight over three scores but McCurry continued to pose problems and Connor McAliskey found some good positions but struggled with the wind. Kyle Coney made way for Ronan O’Neill at the interval by which stage Dublin led by six, 3-4 to 0-7.

Seán Cavanagh, who with his brother and centrefield partner Colm came into the game having been left flat in the early stages by Macauley and Tomás Brady, nearly closed the first half with a goal but Seán Currie, deputising for the suspended Cluxton, saved well for a 45, which Morgan converted.

The pressure
After Dublin had edged farther ahead through a Connolly free, Matthew Donnelly charged through for Tyrone but slammed the ball wide. Donnelly’s presence helped Tyrone to ratchet up the pressure and Seán Cavanagh, McCurry and Morgan from frees, and Mark Donnelly cut the deficit with five unanswered points. Dublin were under mounting pressure and some of Currie’s restarts were going astray, as the lead crumbled away.

It wasn’t until the 49th minute and Alan Brogan’s exquisite point, bent into the wind and over the bar, that Dublin got the scoreboard moving again.

They began to threaten goals. McCaffrey turboed forward but shot weakly. Almost immediately McManamon played a one-two with Whelan and got in on goal but Aidan McCrory scrambled the ball off the line and Morgan kept out the follow-up.

But Dublin’s revival was cashed in for a further couple of points from Philip McMahon and Whelan.

Yet on the hour just as it looked over for the second time, the match turned again. Currie took down Shay McGuigan as he came in on goal. Curiously the ’keeper wasn’t shown even a yellow let alone a black. Harte converted the penalty and the match was back in the melting pot.

Dublin suffered another blow four minutes later when Rory O’Carroll was shown a second yellow for what looked on replay like a good challenge for the ball. But, courtesy of Connolly, the holders hung on as Seán Cavanagh’s late effort at an equaliser drifted wide.
DUBLIN: S Currie; J Cooper, R O’Carroll, P McMahon (0-1); J McCarthy (1-0), K Nolan, J McCaffrey; MD Macauley (1-0), T Brady; J Whelan (1-1), D Connolly (capt; 0-5, four frees), B Cullen (0-1); K McManamon (0-1), E O’Gara, A Brogan (0-1). Subs: Davy Byrne for Brady (44 mins), P Andrews for Cullen (44 mins), N Devereux for McCaffrey (44 mins), C Costello for A Brogan (57 mins).
TYRONE: N Morgan (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45); A McCrory, R McNamee, R McKenna; C McGinley, Matthew Donnelly (0-1), P Harte (1-1, goal a penalty); C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (capt; 0-1); E McKenna, S McGuigan, Mark Donnelly (0-1); D McCurry (0-6, four frees), K Coney, C McAliskey. Subs: M Penrose for E McKenna (23mins), R O’Neill (0-2, frees) for Coney (half-time), C Gormley for McAliskey (57 mins), D Carlin for McGinley (61 mins), N McKenna for McGuigan (66 mins). Black card: D McBride for McNamee (4 mins).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).

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