Tuesday 15 October 2019

Harte's Tyrone show their mettle to outrun the Rebels

Tyrone 2-15 Cork 2-12

Cathal McShane
Cathal McShane

Tyrone briefly flirted with disaster at Croke Park on Saturday night before overcoming the challenge of Cork to nail down a place in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final in three weeks' time.

Twice in the first half Tyrone trailed by seven points after conceding a goal after 16 seconds and another in the 19th minute, but they hit 2-2 in a six-minute spell after half-time to turn the contest around in their favour.

They were uncharacteristically lethargic in the first half particularly in defence, the left flank of which was repeatedly exposed.

Ian Maguire was in inspirational form for Cork but Tyrone boss Mickey Harte suggested his players might have been fatigued as this was their fifth outing in five weeks.

"You never anticipate that you are going to concede a goal so early and then to concede another midway through the half.

"That's never in the script when you go out to play anybody so that was a shock to the system. But the good thing is these players were able to deal with it and bounce back," he suggested.

Harte kept his players in the dressing room for 19 minutes at half-time. Though he played down the significance of the changes he made, unquestionably they had a profound influence on turning their fortunes around.

"Of course when you are five points down you need to do something. We had to make adjustments within the structure of our side and obviously that involved some new personnel.

"Sometimes you do these things and they don't work. But today they worked and we got the result."

Richard Donnelly, Pádraig Hampsey and Michael Cassidy were introduced while team captain Mattie Donnelly played in a more advanced role.

The latter's move was arguably the most significant as he ran the show after the break kicking three points from play and playing a key role in setting up Cathal McShane's 43rd minute goal.

Cork leaked 2-2 between the 42nd and 53rd minutes which left team boss Ronan McCarthy with a bagful of regrets.

"What was critical from our point of view was that we conceded so much so quickly. It was poor from our point of view but at least we came back and kept at it."

Michael Hurley hit four points from play after his 51th introduction kept Cork in touch. But in the end Tyrone saw them off.

It's a measure of how far the Rebels have progressed this summer that they lost to Tyrone by 14 points in a Round 4 qualifier last year. Work remains to be done on their conditioning having run out of steam again.

Tyrone host Dublin in Omagh on Sunday, August 4 to decide first and second placings in Group 2.

Scorers - Tyrone: P Harte (1-0 pen, 3f),C McShane (4f) 1-5 each; M Donnelly 0-3, C Meyler, T McCann 0-1 each. Cork: L Connolly 1-3 (2 f), M Hurley 0-4, J Loughrey 1-0, M Collins 0-2 (2f), S Taylor, S White, J O'Rourke 0-1 each

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