Irrepressible O’Neill helps Cork storm Tyrone’s defensive citadel

Brian Cuthbert’s side within touching distance of a semi-final spot

 Tyrone’s Darren McCurry, who scored seven points, holds off Cork’s Tom Clancy at Healy Park. Photo: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho

Tyrone’s Darren McCurry, who scored seven points, holds off Cork’s Tom Clancy at Healy Park. Photo: Russell Pritchard/Presseye/Inpho

 

Cork 0-17 Tyrone 2-10

Colm O’Neill’s artistry and awesome finishing power carried Cork over the line at Healy Park, where they cracked Tyrone’s defensive system and reeled off 17 scores. O’Neill claimed eight of those, including a late winner that takes Brian Cuthbert’s side to within touching distance of a place in the NFL semi-finals.

Tyrone grabbed two first-half goals through Connor McAliskey and Peter Harte, and held out for 20 minutes of the second period, before fresh legs and a gusting wind helped Cork push for home with a late scoring flourish.

McAliskey slipped past Conor Dorman to smash home a goal after just three minutes, and Tyrone’s defensive strategy was working well, even though the brilliant O’Neill seemed able to convert even the half-chance into a sublime score. The home side struck for a second goal in the 18th minute, when Harte drilled home a penalty after Tomas Clancy had hauled down rookie midfielder Pádraig McNulty.

Looking good

McAliskey scored 1-3 with his first three touches, and Tyrone were looking good at 2-6 to 0-7 at the break. They faced into a strong wind in the second half, but a handful of Darren McCurry frees maintained their five-point advantage until the end of the third quarter.

 

The introduction of Donncha O’Connor gave Cork a major lift, and he engineered the late surge that turned the game, hitting two long-range scores and finding holes in the Tyrone cover which colleagues exploited. Brian Hurley and Fintan Goold also contributed points, and there was a touch of controversy about O’Neill’s late winner, with claims that the ball had drifted wide.

“The two goals we gave away were quite poor. Only for those two goals, we were in a very comfortable position. But it’s March and it’s the league, and we have a very long way to go,” said Cork manager Brian Cuthbert.

“I’d imagine that we are safe from relegation on eight (points). It’s nice head into two weeks (break) top of the table. But at the same time, with Mayo coming to Cork, with the result the other night, it’s going to be a very, very tough game.

“We’re at home, you want to win all your home games, regardless of where you sit in the table, and certainly we know we have a big one coming.”

TYRONE: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, D Quinn; R McNabb, J McMahon, P Harte (1-0, pen); C Cavanagh, P McNulty; T McCann, M Donnelly, R McKenna; D McCurry (0-7, five frees), S Cavanagh, C McAliskey (1-3).

Subs: C McCann for McMahon, PJ Lavery for Quinn, D McBride for McKenna, P McNeice for McNamee.

CORK: M Martin; J Loughrey, M Shields, C Dorman (0-1); T Clancy, S O’ Donoghue, J O’Sullivan; E Cadogan, F Goold (0-1); K O’Driscoll, J O’Rourke, C O’Driscoll (0-1); C O’Neill (0-8, three frees, one 45), M Collins (0-1), B Hurley (0-2,  one free).

Subs: P Kerrigan for O’Donoghue, D O’Connor (0-2, one free) for C O’Driscoll, D Goulding for K O’Driscoll, D Óg Hodnett (0-1) for O’Rourke, J Hayes for Collins.

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).

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