Clinical Tyrone rub salt in Cork’s wounds
Harte’s men beginning to find their best form as the fresh challenge of Super 8s loom
Cork’s goalkeeper Mark White and Brian O’Driscoll dejected after Ronan O’Neill scored Tyrone’s second goal during the qualifier at O’Moore Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Tyrone 3-20 Cork 0-13
If he knew then what he knows now, Mickey Harte might have celebrated their Ulster championship defeat to Monaghan. Then, Tyrone were shaky and uncertain of themselves. Now, they’re the exact opposite.
And exactly where Harte wanted to be; qualifier wins over Meath, Carlow, Cavan and now this slow drubbing of Cork sets them up perfectly for their Super-8s challenge, and back on familiar ground too – Tyrone making 14 of the 18 quarter-finals stage since they were first introduced in 2001. Only Kerry and Dublin have a better record than that.
“Aye, as long as you win and get through to the quarter-finals, of course it’s been a great experience,” said Harte, in the Saturday evening sunshine in Portlaoise.
“We were very disappointed when we lost our Ulster run, because we wanted to go through as Ulster champions again, and this route is always fraught with difficulty, days when you’re living on the edge, and of course we did, but we got there, and are we are where we want to be now.
“But if you lose along the way it’s a bad season, and you can’t be sure. There’s the risk factor, of sudden death, but we are where we wanted to be now, regardless of how we got there.”
With a full-strength panel, looking super-efficient and disciplined too, they thus join Dublin, Donegal and Roscommon in Group B of the Super-8s quarter-finals. First up are Roscommon in Croke Park next Saturday evening (5.0); and no team will fancy the trip to Healy Park.
“It is a unique sort of time in the history of the GAA, this is the first time this procedure has been, on and we wanted to be part of it,” added Harte. “And that’s the benefit of the qualifiers, the more games you play, the more people are getting game-time. And it keeps the players and the panel on their toes and you see players coming in there and knowing they can play at that level. All good for today but we know there are more challenges ahead and we are just glad to be part of those challenges.”
Harte is particularly excited about welcoming the All-Ireland champions to Omagh, though conceded Dublin do have a slight advantage of playing two games in Croke Park: “When people look at it in the cold light of day, it should have been thought of. It does mean two home for games, literally, and maybe in the future that will change.
“But Dublin coming to Healy Park for a quarter-final is something now, something special, but it doesn’t make them any easier to beat. We’ll take on the challenge though, of them coming out of their comfort zone in Croke Park, they know it so well. So it will be nice to ask them some questions at another venue. But then venue won’t beat Dublin.”
Tyrone beat Cork without breaking much sweat, even under the blistering sun On the back of Cork’s 17-point loss in the Munster final, this brings to 33 points their combined deficit in the last two games – a painfully fresh low for Cork football.
Second-half goals from Connor McAliskey and his replacement Ronan O’Neill and late on from Mark Bradley gave Tyrone all the breathing space they needed, as Harte’s team finished with 10 different scorers. McAliskey’s goal on 41 minutes was classic Tyrone.
Pádraig Hampsey won a Cork kick-out and caught McAliskey straight on the run, his thundering finish thoroughly unstoppable. Bradley’s goal followed on 51 minutes and by then Tyrone were 2-16 to 0-10 in front.
In truth Cork were no match for Tyrone’s skill and touch of class, and typically stubborn defence; they also lost Mark Collins to a straight red card on 61 minutes as Cork’s heads dropped.
Cork came in off that 17-point Munster final defeat, their biggest loss to Kerry in 80 years, although started out in relatively good spirits, still level at 0-4 apiece on 22 minutes, after the the excellent Niall Sludden, Frank Burns and Colm Cavanagh helped Tyrone build a three-point lead, 0-4 to 0-1. Tyrone hit double scores at the break 0-10 to 0-5 and never looked back.
And what positives for Cork? When this is put to manager Ronan McCarthy he struggles a little, but makes no excuses either. After one year in the position he’s clearly not where he wanted to be.
“Well I’m not trying to explain anything,” said McCarthy. “What I would say is that a lot of people pointed to the three-year term. We were very clear with the players that we wanted to get as much as we could out of this year.
“It’s disappointing that we haven’t built on the momentum we got from Tipp. That said, look it has to be also said about the players that they’re a very, very honest group of players, they train extremely hard. They don’t deserve what has happened out there but that’s life and you don’t always get what you deserve and that’s it. The basics of commitment and training, dedication and work and everything else are there but they’re not coming out on the pitch and therefore we must go a different way.”
McCarthy had spoken about his hope and need for the players to respond accordingly to that 17-point defeat to Kerry: clearly this 16-point wasn’t it.
“Disappointing, yeah, but you’re entitled to nothing. The fact that we were hammered by Kerry doesn’t mean that we’re owed anything, you have to go out and earn it and win it so like this notion that we were entitled to something after the drubbing we got from Kerry, there’s proof. We got another one.
“You have to go out and earn what you get and the pity from my point of view is that the work that the players have put in hasn’t been reflected in that outside but we have to accept it, that’s it.”
Coupled with the Kerry defeat, there’s already plenty of talk of what currently ails Cork football, including from a management perspective: McCarthy, for now, wasn’t being drawn into it.
“I have my own ideas on it, that I’m not going sharing now. After the first year, I’m very clear in my mind where I need to go here and where we need to go but I’m not going to share that.”
TYRONE: 1 N Morgan; 21 C McCarron, 3 R McNamee, 4 M McKernan; 5 T McCann, 6 F Burns (0-3), 7 P Harte (0-1, a free), 2 P Hampsey, 8 C Cavanagh (0-1); 10 M Donnelly (capt) (0-1), 11 N Sludden (0-2), 12 C Meyler; 13 C McShane (0-2), 14 R Donnelly (0-2), 15 C McAliskey (1-6, four frees).
Subs: 26 R O’Neill (1-2, two frees) for McAliskey (50 mins), 24 K McGeary for McShane (51 mins), 17 M Bradley (1-0) for Harte (52 mins), 22 A McCrory for McKiernan (55 mins), 23 HP McGeary for McNamee (57 mins).
CORK: 1 M White; 2 J Loughrey, 3 J O’Sullivan, 4 K Crowley; 5 K Flahive, 6 S Cronin, 7 C Kiely; 8 I Maguire (capt), 9 B O’Driscoll; 10 S White, 11 M Collins (0-2), 12 R Deane (0-1); 15 M Hurley (0-1), 14 B Hurley, 13 L Connolly (0-9, six frees, one 45).
Subs: 21 K O’Hanlon for O’Sullivan (33 mins, black card), 25 P Kerrigan for Cronin (40 mins), 26 D O’Connor for B Hurley (47 mins), 18 M Taylor for O’Driscoll (50 mins), 22 R O’Toole for White (53 mins), 17 S Ryan for Loughrey (55 mins).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)
First half: 0-10
Second half: 3-10
From play: 3-13
Frees conceded: 9
Yellow cards: 0
Black cards: 0
Red cards: 0
First half: 0-5
Second half: 0-8
From play: 0-6
Frees conceded: 11
Yellow cards: 3
Black cards: 1
Red cards: 1