Tyrone took a major step towards the Allianz National League division one semi finals when they produced a battling performance to end the one hundred percent record of leaders Dublin at Croke Park on Saturday night.
After producing a flat display against Cork six days earlier to lose their own unbeaten tag this was more like it from Tyrone as they displayed great commitment throughout to emerge worthy winners, even if it was only by the minimum margin.
Dublin may have had a few players missing, most notably division one top scorer Bernard Brogan, but they no doubt still expected to win. Tyrone led by a point at the end of a first half that saw them kick nine wides although it was Dublin who came closest to scoring a goal.
By the three-quarter mark Tyrone were three points to the good but when Dublin hit back to get their noses in front things looked ominous for the visitors. That's when Tyrone demonstrated what they are made off as they refused to panic with their substitute's bench making a significant contribution in the closing stages, Plunkett Kane and Paddy McNiece scoring three vital points between them. Manager Mickey Harte was a lot happier after the game than he had been the previous week.
"It could have been a good fixture or a very bad fixture," said Harte.
"If we had gone in with the lack of enthusiasm that we maybe showed for a good part of the Cork game it would have been a bad night for us here. It gave us the incentive to do much better than we had done last week.
"Dublin having done so well up to date could afford to take their foot of the pedal even if they consciously didn't mean to. They knew that they had already made the semi finals after four games and that could well have been at the back of their minds."
After a quarter of an hour the home side led 0-3 to 0-2 with Paul Flynn and Paddy Andrews among their points, Stephen O'Neill and keeper Niall Morgan on target for Tyrone. The visitors though should have been in front as they had already accumulated half a dozen wides while defender Conor Gormley was unlucky to see his effort come back off the post.
In the 16th minute Tyrone were made to pay for not taking their chances when the impressive Kevin McManamon charged through to find Philip Ryan who finished to the net. Tyrone though regrouped and within five minutes they had cut the deficit to the minimum thanks to a Sean Cavanagh brace and another one from O'Neill.
Keeper Morgan then denied Denis Bastick with a superb save with the alert Justin McMahon doing well to clear the rebound of the line. That was a let off for the Red Hands and they made good their escape to turn things around to lead 0-10 to 1-6 at the break with man of the match Mark Donnelly scoring twice.
By the tenth minute of the second half Tyrone had moved three in front thanks to efforts from Martin Penrose and Cavanagh but they were indebted to Morgan again who this time thwarted Diarmuid Connolly.
Connolly landed a couple of scores with Flynn on target again but Tyrone responded through Colm Cavanagh. An outstanding point from Andrews gave Dublin the lead for the first time since the opening quarter but Tyrone came straight down the field for McNiece to send over an equaliser.
Kane then weighed in with a superb score before great work from Sean Cavanagh set up Peter Harte for a two-point lead. Dublin keeper Shane Supple rushed the next kick out and it went straight to Kane who pointed as Tyrone eased three in front again. That was their last score but they had done enough despite late Dublin points from Michael Darragh MacAuley and Connolly.
Dublin: S Supple, K O'Brien, G Brennan, D Nelson, D Daly, C O'Sullivan, J McCaffrey, D O'Mahony, D Bastick, P Flynn (0-2), D Connolly (0-6), C Kilkenny, K McManamon (0-2), P Andrews (0-2), P Ryan (1-0). Subs: C Dias (0-1) for Kilkenny, N Devereux for Nelson, MD McCauley (0-1) for O'Mahony, P Mannion for Ryan, B Cullen for Dias.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1), A McCrory, C Gormley, C McCarron, Joe McMahon, Justin McMahon, R McNamee, C Cavanagh (0-1), S Cavanagh (0-4), Matthew Donnelly, P Harte (0-2), C McGinley, M Penrose (0-1), S O'Neill (0-4), Mark Donnelly (0-2). Subs: D McBride for Justin McMahon, R McKenna for Joe McMahon, C McAliskey for Penrose, P Kane (0-2) for McGinley, P McNeice (0-1) for McGinley.