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Cork inflict rare Tyrone pain

Tyrone 0-8 Cork 0-14

By Declan Bogue

A bleak afternoon shrouded in the characteristic weather of the Wisconsin prairies left Tyrone feeling a deep chill seven days after that sizzling encounter against Donegal.

Comprehensively beaten on their home patch for the first time in two seasons, the emotional freefall was evident here.

Mickey Harte wasn't entirely going along with that theory, but spoke logically afterwards when he said: "We can make all sorts of excuses for it, I don't know what the ultimate answer is but the bottom line is you must show more consistency than we did across both those games.

"No point playing to a very high level against Donegal because they were the All-Ireland champions and we owed them a defeat and all the rest, and then not raising our standard to that level the next day."

It seemed that Tyrone were hunkering in for a long haul in the first half. The mercury said two degrees, but our bones said otherwise. While the home side packed the defence, they were malfunctioning in several sectors. They only won 21% of their own kickouts and clipped six shots wide. Peter Harte was shunted into full-forward as they tried to coax something out of Stephen O'Neill but alas, Harte hit half of the Tyrone wides in the opening half. At times Conor Gormley showed a commendable use of his vast experience, but on occasion Paul Kerrigan got away on him and caused problems.

Donncha O'Connor, on as a substitute for Ciaran Sheehan after 17 minutes, arrowed two points over while Colm O'Neill was a constant menace and got the better of Aidan McCrory.

A lot of attention was on the play of injury returnees Kyle Coney and Ronan O'Neill, with the Omagh youngster contributing plays in the first half; evading two defenders and pointing neatly with his left in one, and threading through a clever ball to Harte who wasted a close-in chance.

Coney's record was identical, though the trouble lay with the lack of support they had and poor decision-making by the Tyrone defence when they managed to turn the Cork ball over. Last week's hero Niall Morgan found it hard to kick frees into the teeth of the wind.

But the mistake is often made that things cannot get any worse.

Here are the bald stats: It was 27 minutes between Tyrone's fourth and fifth scores. Tyrone failed to score from play in the second half. They went 52 minutes in total without a score from play. They hit 12 wides and four shots dropped short. Harte hit three wides, Sean Cavanagh hit four.

Joe McMahon was pushed up to make it an honest six-on-six battle against the Cork backs with Matthew Donnelly remaining at centre-back, but the Rebels as we know, thrive on orthodox football. Two more long-range efforts from Walsh maintained the lead for Cork at the start of the second half. Tyrone sprang old heads Martin Penrose and Mark Donnelly from the bench to kick-start their running game, but sometimes there is no deeper explanation other than that it is just not your day.

Spring football is littered with schizophrenic performances and Tyrone suffered one here.

The other news is that they are in Croke Park next weekend, a venue they have not won in since 2009, against the hottest team in the country.

Now, who wouldn't get worked about that?

TYRONE: N Morgan; A McCrory, C Gormley (0-1, 1f), C McCarron; R McKenna, Joe McMahon (0-1, 1f), R McNamee; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-1, 1f); P McNiece, P Harte, Matthew Donnelly; K Coney (0-1), S O'Neill [Capt] (0-1), R O'Neill (0-2, 1f)

Subs: Cassidy for McNiece [h-time], McGinley for McKenna, Mark Donnelly for R O'Neill [52m], Penrose (0-1, 1f) for Coney [58m]

CORK: K O'Halloran; M Shields, P Kissane, E Cadogan; T Clancy, N O'Leary, J O'Sullivan; G Canty [Capt], A Walsh (0-3); F Goold, M Collins (0-1, 1f), P Kerrigan (0-2); B O'Driscoll (0-1), C Sheehan, C O'Neill (0-5, 3f)

Subs: O'Connor (0-2) for C Sheehan [17m], McLaughlin for O'Sullivan [h-time], C O'Driscoll for B O'Driscoll [53m], Shorten for Goold [62m], A O'Sullivan for D O'Connor [71m]

Referee: Cormac Reilly [Meath]

Attendance: 5,245

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