Carr's Dublin zip into top gear


Reasons for optimism over the obvious restorative work carried out by Dublin's Tom Carr over the summer must be judged against the unremitting ordinariness of Tyrone's first competitive outing of the new season in Parnell Park yesterday.

The Ulster side may have been thrown somewhat by Peter Canavan's late defection but, nonetheless, their way-wardness over the initial 20 minutes seemed to highlight how dependent they are on the on the Errigal Ciaran player, particularly when their open play was contrasted against that of Dublin, who started out in spellbinding fashion.

Yet for all that, one fact remains: Tyrone spurned at least five kickable chances in a match which they lost by six points after being utterly outplayed. This is something which may ultimately may come to concern Tom Carr as much as Tyrone's Danny Ball.

For the main part, though, this was a hugely-encouraging performance for Dublin, underpinned by a masterful midfield display by Ciaran Whelan and notable for the easy assurance with which centre back Ian Robertson and wing back Paul Croft initiated attacks with simple, perceptive balls.

Robertson, in particular, dropped deep behind breaking ball and splayed delightful, angled passes into space for his forwards, a player with vision fronting an aggressive, tight-marking Dublin defence.

Even more positive was what Dublin were doing with the possession. Gone was the hesitancy which stifled their game last summer - all the forwards except Brian Stynes made the score-sheet and the front eight were popping the ball over at will instead of opting to pass the buck as they have done so often in the past. While Stynes, Declan Darcy and Dessie Farrell were always enterprising from open play, this new-found directness was perhaps best expressed by Kilmacud Crokes' pair Ray Cosgrave and Mick O'Keeffe.

The two corner forwards combined for five points from play, with O'Keeffe collecting a ball from Farrell and shimmying past Fay Devlin in the 16th minute before curling over a point which characterised Dublin's unfussy confidence.

That score pushed them into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead and within seven minutes, Darcy had chipped another free and Farrell collected a wonderful cross-field ball from Stynes before leisurely punting his first point.

Tyrone's ventures upfield were sporadic and limp at this point and while they turned a couple of frees wide, Dublin sought to kill the game early, with Jim Gavin belting a shot at Finbarr McConnell before Darcy pointed. O'Keeffe closed the scoring at the half, Stynes again providing the assist.

Tyrone did lift things a little after the break, atoning for what been sinfully loose marking and faring a little better around midfield, where Whelan and Enda Sheehy had been merrily expressing their interpretation of the art of the high fetch.

Eoin Gormley, after a hesitant start, dragged his side towards respectability, both from play and with dead-ball opportunities, including one marvellous sideline kick.

If the edge went out of Dublin's play, that could reasonably have been attributed to the gap between the scores. With 42 minutes gone, it stood at 0-12 to 0-4 and then the home side warmed the crowd with a brilliantly-swift thrust; Robinson played Paul Croft before Whelan took a perfectly-weighted return fist pass from Darcy and razed through Tyrone's defence, whipping a low shot past McConnell.

Game over, but Dublin did concede 1-2 within the next five minutes, the goal coming from an Eoin Gormley lob which Ciaran McBride accepted after relieving himself of Keith Galvin with a casual nudge. His crisp finish left Dublin leading 1-12 to 1-6 with 10 minutes left.

Tyrone never really looked like raising their game sufficiently to entertain any solid thoughts of a result and both teams traded points before Dublin finished matters with another blisteringly direct approach. Croft took possession and cut through before firing an acute ball behind the defence for Farrell, who opted to point from a pass which really deserved a goal.

Dublin: D Byrne; S Ryan, P Christie, K Galvin; T Lynch, I Robertson, P Croft; C Whelan (1-2), E Sheehy; J Gavin (0-1), D Darcy (0-5, three frees), B Stynes; R Cosgrave (0-3), D Farrell (0- 2), M O'Keefe (0-2). Subs: S Cowap for D Darcy (55 mins); B Irwin for P Christie (58 mins); C Moran for M O'Keefe (58 mins).

Tyrone: F McConnell; P McGurk, C Lawn, F Devlin; P Devlin, C Holmes, P Canavan; G Cavlan (0-1), F Logan; D McElroy (0-1), S Corr, C McBride (1-0); R Thornton, E Gormley (0-7, four frees), S Lawn. Subs: A Cush for F Logan (37 mins); C Gourley for P Devlin (42 mins); C Martin for S Corr (55 mins).

Referee: B White (Wexford).