Tyrone's Croker draw feels like a point lost, admits Harte
Dublin 0-10 Tyrone 1-07
Over the years, Dublin and Tyrone have produced a number of close and thrilling encounters and at a bitterly cold Croke Park on Saturday night came the latest installment as it finished honours even at 0-10 to 1-07 in Allianz League Division One.
When defender Aidan McCrory crashed the ball to the Dublin net in the 47th minute, the Red Hands had a five-point lead but a few minutes later they lost Mark Bradley to a straight red card and the Dubs cranked up the pressure with Dean Rock rescuing a share of the spoils with a well-struck free from distance.
Tyrone racked up 14 wides to their opponents' seven with a number of those misses coming from good positions in the first half when they had the wind at their backs, so did manager Mickey Harte view it as a point gained or one lost?
"After we were five points up it was a point lost in that context," said Harte.
"It would have been cruel on us not to get at least a point from that game because with our play and our performance deserved at least a point and I don't think anybody would have begrudged us the two points if we had got them.
"They probably would have come back anyway but it didn't help our cause having Mark Bradley sent off.
"It left us a bit vulnerable on their counter attack where we didn't have the luxury of being able to play a sweeper as it was man to man and all hands to the pump.
"It was a very difficult last 10 or 15 minutes for us but I think that it is to the credit of the lads that they hung in there."
There were certainly a lot of positives to be taken from the game by Tyrone, such as the display of their full back line Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee and Cathal McCarron as well as newcomer Declan McClure and the man of the match, Niall Sludden.
Sludden caused panic in the Dublin defence every time he gained possession with his direct running on a night when he landed three quality points.
Tyrone led 0-3 to 0-1 by the 13th minute with team captain Peter Harte converting a brace of frees and Conor Meyler on target from play. That early momentum though received a setback at the end of the opening quarter when Tiernan McCann was black carded in what looked a harsh decision.
Rock knocked over a Dublin free but the Red Hands continued to look the better side despite missing a host of chances, Sludden with an outstanding brace within three minutes of each other. Jonny Cooper had the final say of the half as Dublin were relieved to only trail 0-5 to 0-3 at the break.
McClure stretched that advantage after the restart but five minutes in they had keeper Niall Morgan to thank for a superb penalty save to deny Rock after Paul Mannion had been fouled.
Rock made amends from a free but in the next attack Tyrone broke at pace to cut open the Dublin defence with Sean Cavanagh and McClure combining for McCrory to finish low to the net.
That left the scoreboard reading 1-6 to 0-4 but following Bradley's dismissal, Dublin came roaring back. Two Rock frees came either side of another fine Sludden strike before Ciaran Kilkenny left just a single score between the teams.
Tyrone failed to score in the final 10 minutes with Hawkeye denying Sludden another point as Brian Fenton and Rock closed the gap to the minimum. At that stage, Dublin were also down to 14 men as James McCarthy had went off injured and they had used all their subs but Rock rescued them with a well-struck equaliser.
Dublin: S Cluxton, P McMahon (0-1), M Fitzsimons, J Cooper (0-1), J McCarthy, J Small, J McCaffrey, B Fenton (0-1), MD MacAuley, N Scully, P Mannion, C Kilkenny (0-1), C Basquel, E O'Gara, D Rock (0-6, 6f). Subs: E Lowndes for Basquel, K McManamon for MacAuley, D Byrne for McCaffrey, C Reddin for Mannion, J Whelan for Small, D Daly for Cooper
Tyrone: N Morgan, P Hampsey, R McNamee, C McCarron, T McCann, A McCrory (1-0), J McMahon, C Cavanagh, D McClure (0-1), C Meyler (0-1), P Harte (0-2, 2f), N Sludden (0-3), D McCurry, C McShane, M Bradley. Subs: R Brennan for McCann (Black Card), S Cavanagh for McShane, J Monroe for McMahon, D Mulgrew for Meyler, C McCann for McCurry (62 mins), P McNulty for McClure, R O'Neill for Sludden (blood sub)
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)