Seán Cavanagh hauls Tyrone into All-Ireland semi-finals
Mickey Harte’s side do everthing they need to do to beat Monaghan at Croke Park
Monaghan’s Darren Hughes chases man-of-the-match Seán Cavanagh of Tyrone at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Monaghan’s Dessie Mone gets to grips with Colm Cavanagh of Tyrone. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Tyrone 0-14 Monaghan 0-12: Killing teams softly, the Tyrone machine trundles deeper in August.
Two different sports on view in Croke Park today. Both are called Gaelic football. This is the Ulster version; sticky, cynical, utterly compelling.
There was a sprinkle of brilliant score gathering from Seán Cavanagh, and his unsportsmanlike rugby tackle, but, boo them all you like, they don’t care how they win. They just win.
You might love it, you might despise, but it’s hard to look away.
The tension simmers and simmers. Dessie Mone was once a cranky, man-marking corner back. Nowadays he’s a freewheeling wing back, shooting up and down the paddock to create and stymie in equal measure.
As both teams rubbed more than a few shoulders en route to the changing rooms, Mone collapsed, seemingly on death’s door. A few pucks from Conor Gormley and Martin Penrose were dished out under Cormac Reilly’s nose, but the referee wasn’t interested. Or so we thought.
Before throwing in for the second half he showed Martin Penrose a straight red card. Mone applauded. The theatrical nature of it all left a bad taste in the mouth.
The Meath whistler had been plenty busy already, giving Monaghan 19 frees to Tyrone’s 12. But clever Tyrone have brought systematic fouling to an art form (be sure they will figure out 2014’s black cardology), picking up just two bookings as Reilly flicked four yellows in Monaghan faces.
By this stage, Tyrone had reeled in Monaghan’s freight train opening sequence, reversing a 0-2 to 0-5 deficit to lead 0-9 to 0-7 at the break.
What really needs to be known about these opening 35 minutes is the majesty of one Seán Cavanagh. The quality of his three points from play were only equalled by another from Joe McMahon, although Conor McManus was making hay down the other end.
Cavanagh and McMahon needed their long range shooting boots as Stephen O’Neill was getting no joy off Drew Wylie.
The numerical advantage after the break gave Monaghan an immediate dividend, with Paul Finlay flooding through on goal only to blaze over. Dick Clerkin, a replacement for Dermot Malone, levelled matters up soon after at 0-9 apiece.
It got worse for Tyrone as Joe McMahon was pulled off, presumably injured. But this is Tyrone. They had a plan. When Ciaran McGinley’s point put them two up, Darren McCurry also went off as Aidan Cassidy came in around the middle.
Suddenly it was 14 players aside as Kieran Hughes rightly departed with a second yellow card after he clothes-lined Mark Donnelly.
Manic stuff now. Down the other end, Cavanagh put in his now weekly rugby tackle to deny McManus a sight of goal.
It seemed as good a time as any for Malachy O’Rourke to fling Tommy Freeman into the fray (a few Paul Finlay frees had been off target).
Twenty-eight men descended into the trenches. McManus tied up the scores once again on 62 minutes. Within seconds Ronan O’Neill nudged Tyrone back in front.
Conor Clarke had a chance to win it with four minutes remaining but bashed his shot against the crossbar. Monaghan only deploy one player, McManus, in attack so Clarke was freed of his fullback duties.
As the Hill swelled with half-interested Dubs, the ending was grim, ugly stuff; Cavanagh’s free giving Tyrone a two-point lead that left a clueless Monaghan shelved for 2013.
The Anglo Celt cup will be supped from throughout the winter but this will hurt. Outfoxed.
Tyrone: P McConnell; D Carlin, Joe McMahon (0-2), C McCarron; C McGinley (0-1), C Clarke (0-1), C Gormley; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-5, two frees); Matthew Donnelly (0-1), P Harte (0-1), Mark Donnelly; D McCurry (0-2, two frees), S O’Neill, M Penrose. Substitutions: P McNiece for J McMahon (45 mins), A Cassidy for D McCurry (46 mins), R McNabb for P McNiece, R O’Neill (0-1) for S O’’Neill (both 54 mins), P Kane for Mark Donnelly (65 mins)
Monaghan: R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie, C Walshe; V Corey, N McAdam, D Mone; O Lennon, D Hughes; P Finlay (0-2, two frees), S Gollogly, P Donaghy; D Malone, K Hughes (0-1), C McManus (0-7, five frees). Substitutions: D Clerkin (0-1) for D Malone (24 mins), C McGuinness (0-1) for P Donaghy (half-time) .
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).