Tyrone strike late on the double for miraculous win

Mickey Harte salutes last-gasp goals but admits his team were ’played off the park’

Kildare’s Tomas O’Connor evades the challeneg of Tyromne’s  Aidan McCrory of Tyrone. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Kildare’s Tomas O’Connor evades the challeneg of Tyromne’s Aidan McCrory of Tyrone. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho


Kildare 1-21 Tyrone 3-16

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte said that his team’s miraculous deliverance in Newbridge yesterday must have owed something to the intervention of the late Cormac McAnallen whose 10th anniversary occurred yesterday.

It was about the most plausible explanation for the astonishing conclusion to this Division One meeting, attended by around 4,000.

These are the facts: Tyrone were on level terms with Kildare for fewer than two minutes at the start of the 70, and trailed from then on until injury-time. They led for a handful of seconds during the match, but they were the only seconds that counted.

Contrived winning score
When Ronan O’Neill struck in the 70th minute with Kildare leading by five, 1-21 to 1-16 it had the appearance of one of those too-little-too-late scores that are – often questionably – referred to as “consolation”.

Just one minute of injury-time was signalled and the game looked up but somehow Tyrone contrived the winning score.

If there was some question over the amount of travelling Mattie Donnelly did with the ball, credit the perseverance but his deflected shot ballooned into the air and in the chaos that ensued Kyle Coney managed to play it across the goal to Mark Donnelly, who touched it into the net with seconds remaining.

By Harte’s own admission his team had been “played off the park” by Kildare, who attacked with enthusiasm and precision to open up a 0-7 to nil advantage within 10 minutes including a stream of finishes from Paddy Brophy, Eoghan O’Flaherty and Cathal McNally.

Seán Hurley – who had a terrific match – kicked another point and Tommy Moolick stormed down the right to kick another. Tyrone weren’t even getting into shooting positions. Ominously though when they did, their conversion rate was efficient. Emmett McKenna shot a wide inside three minutes but for the rest of the first half-hour they wasted little else and scored 1-6.

In the 28th minute Peter Harte was black-carded for checking Tomás O’Connor on a run through and he was replaced by Ronan McNamee. More positively for Tyrone they conjured up a goal within minutes. Darren McCurry did well to get to an incoming ball and quickly released Emmett McKenna for the score.

Mattie Donnelly followed with a point and the margin was down to one, 1-7 to 0-11 and scores were exchanged equally to maintain that differential at the break, 1-9 to 0-13.

Within four minutes of the restart O’Connor got a fist to O’Flaherty’s dropping delivery. Mulhall pointed almost immediately and the margin was back to five, 1-14 to 1-9.

Tyrone had made changes at the break. Seán Cavanagh switched to centrefield to partner his brother Colm and Donnelly dropped to defence and was replaced by his namesake Mark in attack.

Brief rally
They managed a brief rally with points in quick succession to cut the deficit once again to a point and it began to dawn on everyone that Tyrone weren’t managing to get any closer than that same point.

Kildare, it appeared, weren’t to be denied and they maintained their scoring rhythms – 1-21 is a formidable tally in a top-flight fixture – with Tyrone chasing. Hurley, Paul Cribbin and O’Flaherty from a free sent them into the last minute of normal time five points clear.

Asked afterwards did he feel that the black-card sanction had influenced the way in which his players failed to haul down Tyrone’s late goal scorers, Jason Ryan said: “We spoke about it a small bit after the game but I suppose in the heat of the game you work so hard at doing the right things. What was the right thing to do in that scenario?

“Maybe the right thing would have been to take him down. But we shouldn’t have got ourselves into that position. That is the reality of it. We played very good football to get ourselves into a winning position and then just let it slip.”

It was fitting that 10 years to the day since they lost the 24-year-old Cormac McAnallen, Tyrone should produce such a memorable act of defiance in winning a match the title deeds of which were securely in Kildare’s possession.

Was there guidance from their late captain? Mickey Harte sounded convinced.

‘Divine intervention’
“I’ve no doubt there was. How else could you win a game like that? It had to be some divine intervention. We did think about Cormac at our Mass today and we thought about him in the changing rooms and he’s very much in our minds and all we wanted to do was give a creditable performance in his memory and I think he’d be very proud of the way that finished although there were times he’d have been disgusted.”

A thrilling match had rushed headlong through the spring afternoon with Tyrone just about hanging on to its coat-tails. The two late, late goals were respectively the 40th and 41st scores of the match but Harte resisted the implicit link between the scorefests of the current league and the black-card rule, specifically punishing cynical fouls.

“I’m not necessarily sure. I wouldn’t attribute it all to the new rules. Football evolves and goes in certain directions at certain times. There’s a trend that happens and I think the trend was moving towards that anyway. Teams follow suit of somebody who’s successful playing a certain style of football. I suppose this black-card issue is a bit of a strange thing at the moment.”

KILDARE: S Connolly; M O’Grady (0-1), M Foley, H McGrillen; P Cribbin (0-1), F Conway, K Murnaghan; T Moolick (0-1), G White; C McNally (0-2), E O’Flaherty (0-6, four frees), S Hurley (0-2); D Mulhall (0-5, two frees, one 45), T O’Connor (1-0), P Brophy (0-3). Subs: D Hyland for Conway (46 mins), P Fogarty for O’Connor (56 mins), P O’Neill for McNally (57 mins), J Gately for White (65 mins), F Dowling for Mulhall (68 mins), D Flynn for Moolick (71 mins).
TYRONE: N Morgan (0-1, free); A McCrory, C Clarke, B Tierney; C McGinley, P Harte, R McKenna; C Grugan, C Cavanagh; E McKenna (1-2), R O’Neill (1-5, 0-3 frees), S Cavanagh (0-1); D McCurry (0-1, free), Mattie Donnelly (0-3), C McAliskey (0-2). Subs: Mark Donnelly (1-1) for Grugan (half-time), R McNabb for R McKenna (47 mins), N McKenna for McGinley (51 mins), K Coney for E McKenna (59 mins). Black card: R McNamee for Harte (28 mins).
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)