McShane brace sees Tyrone past Longford
Tyrone 2-15 Longford 1-14
Tyrone footballers are back up on the horse.
They are marching along the qualifier route that manager Mickey Harte and so many of the players know so well, one that took them all the way to the All-Ireland Final last year.
The Red Hands were worth so much more than a four-point win in Pearse Park last Saturday evening.
Tyrone were simply too fast, too physical, too clinical and too well schooled to get into any trouble in this game once they had bagged those early gifts of goals, both plundered by Cathal McShane.
Longford scored 1-3 in the closing minutes of the game to put a sheen on the final scoreline that does not deserve to be there.
Maybe it is just best if Longford write off this year.
With four of the finest footballers in the county not committing to the Championship panel, the home team's chances of doing much this year were always slim.
But for manager Pádraig Davis there was a pride in his team's fight.
"Look, we kept going right to the end, that was pleasing.
"But we gave up two handy goals to Tyrone in the first half and you just cannot do that.
"We needed to get one of those goals and maybe put Tyrone under pressure, the crowd would have come behind us and got going.
"Instead we, and they, were deflated by the goals."
Full-forward McShane got both of them for the Red Hands - but they came gift-wrapped!
The first arrived in the 9th minute when Longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum tried a short kick-out.
The penalty for getting it wrong is huge and so it proved when Collum steered the ball to Tyrone's Niall Sludden.
He centred the ball quickly to Cathal McShane who stuck it in the net at the second attempt.
Things got even better for Mickey Harte's side with the second goal.
You can talk about tactics and systems and styles and then you can go old school, and bomb the ball at a big full-forward.
That's what wing-back Michael Cassidy did and McShane fisted the sphere to the net.
Simple, straightforward, and as McShane proved time and again during the Allianz League this year when he beat better defences than Longford's, it works.
Far too well for an outclassed and out-gunned Longford to cope with.
Scorers - Tyrone: C McShane 2-2, P Harte 0-9 (7 fs), B McDonnell 0-2, HP McGeary, M Cassidy (0-1 each) Longford: D McGivney 0-4 (all frees), CP Smyth 0-3, I O'Sullivan 1-0, B McKeon 0-2 (1f), M Quinn 0-2, D Mimnagh, J Hagan, S Kenny (0-1 each)