FL1: rejuvenated Red Hands knock Dubs out of league

March 16, 2019

Tyrone's Brian Kennedy gets his shot away despite the efforts of Dublin's Brian Howard

Inside forwards Cathal McShane and Matthew Donnelly excelled as 14-man Tyrone inflicted a 1-14 to 1-11 defeat on Dublin at Croke Park.

By avenging their All-Ireland final loss to the Dubs last September, with 19,927 in attendance, Mickey Harte’s men have leapfrogged the holders on the Division One table, giving themselves an outside chance of nicking a place in the final whilst knocking Dublin out of contention.

Having lost three times, Jim Gavin’s men lie in fifth place with one round of matches remaining. It was a bad night all around for the hosts, who lost Cormac Costello, John Small and Paddy Andrews to injury. Tyrone, who started the league sluggishly, will reach the final if they beat Galway in Omagh next weekend and Mayo lose to Monaghan.

The Red Hands – who had Niall Sludden dismissed in the 50th minute - led by 1-7 to 1-5 at the break, Man of the Match McShane (1-4) calmly firing their goal at the Hill 16 end in the 21st minute to give them the lead, Costello having given the holders a dream start when netting inside four minutes.

Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy and Paul Mannion came into the Dubs starting XV in place of Evan Comerford, Darren Gavin and Andrews, while Brian Kennedy replaced Connor McAliskey as a starter for the winners.

Mattie Donnelly opened the scoring in the first minute but Costello got on the end of a brilliant Dublin counter attack in the fourth minute to drill the ball off Niall Morgan’s underside to the back of the Tyrone net. Visiting captain Donnelly’s second was followed by a 13th-minute Peter Harte free as the visitors drew level, 0-3 to 1-0, Tyrone having lost the influential Tiernan McCann to injury.

Con O’Callaghan hit Dublin’s first point in the 17th minute but the game sparked to life four minutes later when McShane expertly despatched his shot along the surface under Cluxton to give the Red Hands the lead, 1-3 to 1-1. Harte landed his second pointed free after Rock replied and Mannion punished a Tyrone mistake with his first point of the night, McShane doubling the Tyrone lead again after Niall Morgan had brilliantly denied Costello a second Dublin goal.

'Man of the Match' Cathal McShane celebrates his goal for Tyrone at Croke Park

Morgan and McShane swung over frees – both awarded for fouls on the excellent Donnelly – either side of a Ciaran Kilkenny response and Dublin lost Costello to a knee injury before Mannion (free) closed the first-half scoring.

McShane slotted the first point of the second half via the top of the crossbar but Brian Fenton quickly replied and Rock’s close-range free made it a one-point game, only for Richard Donnelly to break forward from midfield to make it 1-9 to 1-7. Paddy Andrews struck out Morgan’s free but Mattie Donnelly’s third point restored the Red Hands’ three-point advantage with 47 minutes played.

After Mannion pulled one back, the visitors were reduced to 14 men when Sludden was sent off 20 minutes from the end, picking up a black card to go with an earlier yellow one … and therefore a red.

Richard Donnelly nudged the gap out to three again at the start of the fourth quarter and Harte pointed following a forward mark as the 14 men led by four with 15 minutes left. McShane also pointed from a mark as the northerners led by five with ten minutes left, Kilkenny replying immediately.

Mannion pulled back a consolation point from a free in the third of four added minutes and Matthew Donnelly’s late diving block ensured that Tyrone came away from the capital with a magnificent victory - a poignant result to mark their legendary manager's 300th competitive game in charge.

Tyrone - N Morgan (0-2f); R McNamee, P Hampsey, H P McGeary; K McGeary, F Burns, C Meyler; B McDonnell, B Kennedy; P Harte (0-3, 2f, 1m), N Sludden, R Donnelly (0-2); T McCann, C McShane (1-4, 0-1f, 0-2m), M Donnelly (0-3). Subs: R Brennan for T McCann, C McAliskey for F Burns, C Cavanagh for R McNamee, D McCurry for B Kennedy.

Dublin - S Cluxton; J Cooper, D Byrne, C O'Connor; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J Small; B Howard, B Fenton (0-1); N Scully, C Kilkenny (0-2), C O'Callaghan (0-1); C Costello (1-0), P Mannion (0-4, 2f, 1m), D Rock (0-2f). Subs: D Daly for J Small, P Andrews (0-1) for C Costello, K McManamon for P Andrews, D Gavin for C O'Sullivan, E O'Gara for D Rock, C Basquel for N Scully.

Referee - J Henry.

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