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Harte happy to get fierce reaction out of Tyrone

Tyrone 1-10 Dublin 1-7

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Hands off: Tyrone’s Rory Brennan wrestles with Dublin’s Kevin McManamon

Hands off: Tyrone’s Rory Brennan wrestles with Dublin’s Kevin McManamon

Hands off: Tyrone’s Rory Brennan wrestles with Dublin’s Kevin McManamon

Once the final whistle was blown to end this rather odd, certainly strange league win for Tyrone over Dublin, manager Mickey Harte stayed on his game.

He walked over to new Dublin manager Dessie Farrell, shook his hand, greeted a few of the Dubs players and then went straight to his goalscoring hero Rory Brennan, who only a matter of minutes before had rattled the net and put the game - for once - beyond their rivals.

Brennan was then presented for the post-match interview duties and, while probably not the most demonstrative being to begin with, gave a series of very businesslike answers to the questions posed.

There was no point in Tyrone getting excited or showing any glee at beating Dublin, especially given that the game shouldn't actually have been played such were the horrendous conditions as Storm Jorge followed up the earlier work of Storms Ciara and Dennis to leave most of the island in a dreadful state.

That aside, Tyrone's ability to come out on top of a dogfight has probably saved them in this league. Against Kerry in Edendork, the conditions were similarly dreadful and they carved out a win there. Here, they struggled badly in the third quarter after Padraig Hampsey was black-carded before the game restarted - evidently for his role in the tunnel fight - and Dublin moved into a two-point lead after being level at the break.

At that stage, the All-Ireland champions usually assume control of a game's flow - but this was no normal night, and the pitch and weather wouldn't permit it. Darren McCurry converted a free before goalkeeper Niall Morgan hit three consecutive Tyrone frees to grab the lead.

His fine motor skills were appreciated by his manager.

"It's critical," said Harte afterwards.

"The last two games we've won, his kicking off the ground has been critical. We did a serious amount of work to win those frees and if they're being missed, that work is in vain. When you get a score, the players feel good, that it's worth working for those frees."

A Dean Rock free levelled the game for the sixth time before the Red Hands did to Dublin what Dublin do to so many by hitting a late goal.

Credit must go to substitute Tiernan McCann who began a move down the right flank and combined with Liam Rafferty. A late run came in the guise of Brennan and the trailing Dublin defence couldn't quite read his angle. The Trillick man made straight for goal and put it high into the roof of the net beyond Evan Comerford.

A few things. There was only one minute of normal time left at this point. Just four minutes - correctly - were awarded for time added on and crucially, referee Cormac Reilly stuck to this.

Without a pristine pitch to execute their game-saving plays, being three points behind, Dublin engineered one final raid but when Kevin McManamon was presented with a sight on goal, he hooked his shot wide to the left of the post.

The 3,850 hardy souls here were gifted rich entertainment, and the cheer that greeted the final whistle felt a bit like old times in Healy Park, made all the sweeter given Tyrone's erratic form and the sight of star man Cathal McShane in a compression boot.

Dublin had looked up for the game in the early stages when late replacement Colm Basquel netted a goal after two minutes, but Tyrone are a doughty lot when they get into trench warfare.

For example, they turned over Dublin eight times in their own 45m zone in the first half alone. Would that have happened under Jim Gavin?

"You don't like to lose, full stop," admitted Farrell afterwards.

"It was a feisty affair but it is not the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination.

"It is just your competitive instincts, you don't like coming out the wrong end of those duels."

He sensed that given the prevailing torrid conditions, perhaps there was a bit being held back in any event.

"There was a bit of that to be sure. That would be natural enough but credit to both sides, they went at it. It takes a bit of courage to do that but that is no excuse because it was difficult for both sides. They showed that bit more hunger and appetite, while turnovers killed us in that game," he said.

As for Tyrone, they have one foot out of the relegation grave, and as the players headed down the tunnel afterwards, substitute Ronan O'Neill smiled as he shouted, "We're not dead yet, boys!" to reporters.

It felt like a natural kickback from the 19-point humiliation to Galway last weekend. Harte agreed.

"Absolutely," he said when asked if the Tuam defeat had stung.

"I've been managing Tyrone teams for 30 years now, since 1991, and I had never suffered a defeat like that at any level. Of course I was stung, and they were stung. I shared that sting with them tonight before they came here."

Wouldn't doubt it. At all.

As things stand, Tyrone may be safe but so much depends on what goes on around the other grounds.

The National League will now take a week's break - apart from the games that had to be called off entirely - and when it resumes, Tyrone make the short trip to face Donegal. More markers to be laid ahead of the Championship.

Belfast Telegraph