Stormy night for Dublin and Tyrone both on and off the pitch

While Jorge played havoc with match play, a halftime schmozzle brewed up in the tunnel

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte celebrates after their Allianz Football League Division 1 win against  Dublin at Healy Park, Omagh on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte celebrates after their Allianz Football League Division 1 win against Dublin at Healy Park, Omagh on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Tyrone 1-10 Dublin 1-7 

The wind was howling and the rain was pelting, but no one could have forecast, as both teams dashed for the dressing-room at half-time at Healy Park on Saturday night, the other storm that was about to erupt in the tunnel.

By Jorge standards the damage appeared limited, and yet, without any warming, players and backroom members from both teams began to get stuck into each other, caught by the TV camera positioned at the halfway line at the opposite of the pitch. Punches were definitely thrown, though it was hard to tell exactly who was throwing them.

Both Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and Dublin’s Dessie Farrell brushed aside the impact of it all afterwards. Tyrone midfielder Pádraig Hampsey was black-carded on the restart by match referee Cormac Reilly, which suggests that may well be that.

They’ve certainly shared more stormy games at Healy Park over the years. In the end Tyrone whipped up a storm via a suitably thundering goal from Rory Brennan, in the last minute of normal time, putting the first and ultimately decisive distance on the scoreboard.

Still wounded from their record 19-point defeat to Galway last weekend, Tyrone hadn’t scored a goal since the 10th minute of the opening win over Meath. Brennan’s shot came at the perfect time, in more ways than one. Dublin, looking to stir one last flurry, simply didn’t have the time in the four minutes of added time, Kevin McManamon’s shot at goal drifting wide.

Harte made no secret of the fact that the Galway defeat was the spur.

“Absolutely. I’ve been managing Tyrone teams for 30 years now, since 1991, and I never suffered a defeat like that at any level, so I was stung, and they were stung,” he said.

There has to be some spark in the individual, and that spark has to spread throughout the team

“We wanted a performance. The result is a real bonus, but we wanted a performance, coming from where we were, and we got it. It [the Galway game] was talked about a bit, and certainly talked about before we left Kelly’s Inn earlier to come here. We felt that performance was far from good enough, despite all the poor things that happened to us, in terms of harsh sending-offs, injuries to key players. We had chances in the first half, too. But generally we accepted there was a bit of lethargy around the place, and too many players underperformed.

“You could count on the fingers of half a hand who played up to their potential.

It’s all about a mental approach, a decision in the head. There has to be some spark in the individual, and that spark has to spread throughout the team. It’s rare you get it as good as you get here.”

Still, the question of how – or why – the game went ahead will linger. None of us in attendance could recall worse conditions for football. Reilly carried out a final inspection 30 minutes before throw-in, somehow deeming Healy Park fit to play; Teresa Mannion would not have approved. Just 3,850 hardy souls made their way inside.

Tyrone got the wind in their sails in the second half in other ways, too. Niall Morgan’s three frees in quick succession – on 56, 56 and 60 minutes – would have done the kitesurfer proud the way he caught the wind. With Niall Scully black-carded on 57 minutes, Dublin played 10 crucial minutes with 14 men, but in truth they fell short of Tyrone’s intensity in the end – a second league defeat to the Ulster side after losing out last year, too.

It began, suitably enough, with a whirlwind of a goal from Colm Basqual after just one minute and 40 seconds, a run down the middle started by Eoin Murchin, Brian Howard laying off the final pass – helped, naturally, by having Jorge at their backs. Dean Rock’s first shot on goal on 12 minutes was on target – until Jorge sent it wildly astray like a burst balloon at a child’s party.

It was a feisty affair but it is not the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination

In the second half, though, with scores remaining scarce, Cillian O’Shea and Scully kept Dublin ticking over, before Tyrone produced the quality one that counted most. Eoin O’Brien was among the usual late changes for Dublin, the Castleknock defender getting his first senior start in place of Philly McMahon, Basquel also coming in for John Small. 

Of more concern to Farrell was the result, Tyrone inflicting a first league defeat of 2020. “You don’t like to lose, full stop. It was a feisty affair but it is not the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination. But it is just your competitive instincts – you don’t like coming out the wrong end of those duels.”

Farrell appeared uneasy about the game going ahead. “I referenced that at the start, to the referee, that the welfare of the players was paramount, but ultimately he made the call on it and the game went ahead. There was no significant injury, thankfully.”

He also hinted at the possibility his players were fearful of going full title, given the conditions. “There was a bit of that, to be sure. That would be natural enough, but credit to both sides, they went at it. It takes a bit of courage to do that but that is no excuse because it was difficult for both sides. Tyrone showed that bit more hunger and appetite, while turnovers killed us in that game.”

TYRONE: N Morgan (0-4, all frees); M Cassidy, R McNamee, L Rafferty (0-1); M McKernan. R Brennan (1-1), M O’Neill; C Cavanagh, P Hampsey; F Burns, N Sludden, D McCurry (0-1, a free); P Harte (0-2, one free), B Kennedy, C Meyler (0-1).

Substitutes: J McCaffrey for O’Brien (half-time), T McCann for O’Neill (45 mins), K Coney for Sludden (60 minutes), R O’Neill for McKernan (67 mins), N Kelly for Hampsey (72 mins).

DUBLIN: E Comerford; D Byrne, E O’Brien, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, E Murchan, C O’Shea (0-1); B Fenton (0-1), B Howard; C Kilkenny, P Mannion, N Scully (0-1); D Rock (0-4, all frees), C Basquel (1-0), S Bugler.

Substitutes: B McDonnell for Kennedy (half time), K McManamon for Bugler (47 mins), J Small for Fitzsimons (50 mins), C Costello for Basquel (62 mins), A Byrne for McCaffrey (67 mins, inj).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)

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