Dublin looking ahead to challenge of Cork as Tyrone are left with pride intact
‘We are very pleased because you can’t go down without a fight and at one stage it looked we could be in a bad place’
Dublin manager Jim Gavin: looking forward to facing Cork in the semi-final. Photograph: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho
The last day of the league always turns into a nationwide mathematics class and as Tyrone came up the field chasing a late, late point to draw level in Healy Park, everyone knew what was at stake. Seán Cavanagh’s effort, under fierce pressure, came close and Mickey Harte noted afterwards that a free might not have been undeserved.
But there was no whistle, the shot drifted fell short and that was it. League over. Tyrone bow out with their pride intact and mixed feelings.
“We are very pleased because you can’t go down without a fight and at one stage it looked we could be in a bad place . . .” said Harte.
“We were still creating chances, we were wayward in our finishing. We had five or six chances in a row out of which we only converted one then it would have been a much closer game at half-time and it would have been a lot easier.
“But the battle we had, the mountain we had to climb so high, they only needed a point or two in the second-half to keep their noses in front. When we got level there, I thought we deserved a free for the effort we put in but it wasn’t forthcoming and I would feel it would have been forthcoming easier in other places.”
It was a reasonably satisfying league for Tyrone but as Harte pointed out, the standard required has been particularly high this year.
“ Apart from the Kerry game we were competitive in every match, and we’re still not in the semi-final. So, maybe that tells us something about the quality that’s required to get to the semi-final.”
Instead, Dublin have a chance to fine tune their team in the semi-final next week.Bernard Brogan was withdrawn from the starting line up but was available here. In the end, he was called upon to nothing more strenuous than sign autographs. Dublin did attempt to introduce him but were informed by the fourth official that they had no more substitutes to use. Confusingly, they were also told that they could bring in a replacement for Rory O’Carroll, whom they believed had been black carded rather than red carded.
“We questioned the fourth official and we were told that we could put a substitute in and that was the genesis of it,” Jim Gavin said. “But . . . yeah, he made the mistake and that’s just life.”
Dublin’s first choice goalkeeper and all-round field marshall Stephen Cluxton is also available for selection next week. Sean Currie has the toughest understudy role in Irish sport but drew plaudits from Philly McMahon for his performance yesterday.
“He did brilliant today. His kick outs were excellent . We all know that Stephen Cluxton is such a good keeper and he has does it for so long and so for a fella to come in and do that in the rough and get a game in hand in terms of playing in Omagh with a big excited crowd, a packed stadium; it is great to see him doing well and filling Stephen’s shoes.”
The Dublin U-21 players will be released next week but Gavin can prepare for the visit of Cork to Croke Park with a squad in good health.
“Yeah, it is a great challenge. There is a great tradition in Cork and they play a very technical game with a lot of pace and power in the middle sector. They have a very good, solid defence and with Colm O’Neill coming back into the forward division they are potent up front. We had a cracking game with them a few weeks ago in Croke Park and I am sure next weekend will be no different.”