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Another loss has Red Hands facing the trapdoor

Tyrone 2-10 Cork 0-17

By Declan Bogue

After watching his side's record at home in league and Championship football stretch to only three wins from the last 11 games, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte made directly for the team bus rather than conduct his customary post-match briefing.

If he had, he would surely have been asked to air his grievances, of which there were many. Such as Justin McMahon's yellow card for a textbook tackle on Colm O'Neill on 25 minutes.

Or O'Neill's winning point for the Rebels with two minutes left on the clock. From the vantage of the press box, the media could clearly see the effort was wide of the near post, but referee Marty Duffy chose not to consult linesman Niall Cullen.

Finally, he might have questioned the timekeeping of Duffy, who blew this game up early.

Instead, Sean Cavanagh faced the press. In his 200th appearance for the Red Hands, he failed to score but that didn't seem to matter as Tyrone burned into a 2-6 to 0-8 lead by half time.

Criticised for employing a system that does not lend itself to grabbing goals, they had the ball in the net after three minutes when Peter Harte's long ball found Connor McAliskey, who fired low past Cork keeper Michael Martin.

Darren McCurry then turned Colm O'Driscoll inside-out before chalking up a point and McAliskey got on the end of a flowing move involving McCurry and Aidan McCrory to add another point, with Cork replying with a solitary O'Neill score.

In just four first-half plays, McAliskey conjured up 1-3, a demonstration of how lethal he can be.

Cork struggled with the wind, but in the second half they took over. They rendered Tyrone scoreless from play as they used the deceptive wind to great effect.

While Tyrone set up their blanket defence and pulled bodies back, the withdrawal of McMahon robbed them of a big presence.

Cork manager Brian Cuthbert was brave, sending on all six substitutes and one of them, the experienced Donncha O'Connor, demonstrated how to use the wind superbly by hanging a shot in the air that carried over the bar.

At the same stage, three Tyrone wides from Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly and Conall McCann within five minutes cost them dearly.

From the 56th minute, Cork hit seven unanswered points while Niall Morgan's kickouts were decoded by the visitors and they ruled the skies in midfield. Substitute Donal Óg Hodnett levelled matters by punching over the bar, before Brian Hurley gained the lead and O'Neill's disputed point pushed them further out.

McCurry replied with another free but Tyrone were struggling.

Cuthbert was asked if his side benefited from the umpire's kind view of O'Neill's late point and answered: "I don't know. Character, belief, experience, good players, I think we showed all that.

"You're going to go through a season with points that go wide or points that go over. It's going to happen to everybody, but I didn't see that."

Cork sit pretty at the top of Division One, and appear to have the defensive systems in their locker when it comes to the harder ground. Still, their head honcho was able to pick holes in their optimism.

"The two goals we gave away were quite poor. Only for those two goals, we were in a very comfortable position. But we have a very long way to go," he said.

Tyrone's meeting with Donegal in Ballybofey on March 29 is now crucial. Whoever loses that is almost sure to be relegated.

"It's away from home so I'd say we've probably a good chance to win!" quipped Cavanagh afterwards.

"It's a big game. We know Donegal have had the edge over us in the last few years and we as a group have to try and rectify that."

TYRONE: N Morgan; R McNamee, J McMahon, R McKenna; D Quinn, R McNabb, A McCrory; C Cavanagh, P McNulty; T McCann, M Donnelly, P Harte 1-0, Pen; D McCurry 0-7, 5f, S Cavanagh (C), C McAliskey 1-3. Subs: C McCann for McMahon (35m), PJ Lavery for Quinn (43m), D McBride for R McKenna (56m), P McNeice for McNamee (68m)

Yellow cards: J McMahon (25m)

Black cards: McNabb (71m)

CORK: M Martin; M Shields, C Dorman 0-1, J Loughrey; Tomás Clancy, S O'Donoghue, J O'Sullivan; E Cadogan, F Goold 0-1; K O'Driscoll, J O'Rourke, C O'Driscoll 0-1; C O'Neill 0-8, 3f, 1x'45', M Collins 0-1, B Hurley 0-2, 1f. Subs: P Kerrigan for O'Donoghue (26m), D O'Connor 0-2, 1f, for C O'Driscoll (48m), D Goulding, D Óg Hodnett 0-1, and J Hayes for O'Rourke, K O'Driscoll and Collins (55m), Barry O'Driscoll for Clancy (62m)

Yellow cards: J O'Rourke (28m), T Clancy (29m), O'Sullivan (48m),

Black cards: Goold (67m)

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)

Attendance: 3,985.

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