Cork's bench press proves too much as Red Hands fall by the wayside
More often than not, Championship matches tend to be won from the bench these days and Tyrone found that out to their cost in yesterday's All-Ireland U20 Football Championship defeat to a slicker and more resourceful Cork side at O'Connor Park, Tullamore.
It was the polished double act of Fionn Herlihy and Eanna O'Hanlon that finally brought the Red Hands to their knees in the dying moments of a pulsating encounter which had offered rich promise to the Ulster side before the mat was whipped from under their feet in the closing stages.
The manner in which Herlihy and O'Hanlon answered the call to arms by garnering two points each at a stage when the then fourteen-man Tyrone had given their all highlighted Cork's strength in depth and their inner resolve.
Up until their dramatic intervention, Tyrone's spirit, skill and character had ensured they stayed neck-and-neck with a Cork side fresh from beating Kerry in the Munster final and confidently bearing the favourites label.
Yet it was Paul Devlin's side who gained the upper hand in the first-half with Darragh Canavan and Sean McAleer forming a dynamic twin spearhead in attack as their team forced Cork onto the back foot.
But when Mark Cronin was on hand to find the net for Cork, Tyrone were temporarily rocked back on their heels and a swing in momentum seemed to be on the cards.
However, it was Canavan who steadied the Red Hands ship when he scored a great goal and with Tiarnan Quinn (4) and Sean Og McAleer (3) displaying their accuracy in picking off points, their team began to look rather more comfortable and deserved their 1-10 to 1-6 interval advantage.
Yet all the while Cathal O'Mahoney's accuracy from frees was beginning to prove a valuable component in the Rebel County's armoury.
And he became a much bigger threat to the Ulster side after the break when he brought his haul of points to seven.
Tyrone pressed forward from midfield in the third quarter with McAleer in particular still a big menace to Cork before Michael Conroy was sent in from the bench to add a further sting to their attack.
But Cork nevertheless continued to look dangerous and used the ball intelligently in stretching the Red Hands' defence.
Tyrone's cause was not helped when the impressive Joe Oguz was shown a red card at the start of the last quarter and from then on his side were up against it.
Jack Murphy's superbly-taken second goal gave Cork a cushion but even then Tyrone, with McAleer and substitute Michael Conoroy on target, remained in touch and with the sides deadlocked at 2-14 to 1-17, the game was very much in the balance.
But the impact made by Herlihy and O'Hanlon was to have severe consequences for Tyrone as they were edged out in the end.
Yet the Red Hands side take comfort from a Championship surge that saw them claim some notable scalps while at the same time offering confirmation that the county's talent conveyor belt is in full swing.
Cork: J O'Keefe; M Mahoney, M Shanley, P Ring; C O'Donovan, S Meehan, P O'Driscoll; B Hartnett 0-1, D O'Connell; C Barrett 0-2, B Murphy, C O'Callaghan; M Cronin 1-2 (1f), C O'Mahony 0-7 (5f), D Gore.
Subs: E O'Hanlon 0-2 for O'Connell (23), J McCarthy for O'Donovan (33), J Murphy 1-0 for O'Callaghan (35), F Herlihy 0-2 for B Murphy (41), M Hodnett 0-1 for Mahoney (54), S Hickey for Meehan (BC 61).
Tyrone: L Quinn; A Clarke, C Quinn, P Mullan; C Grimes, A Fox, C Devlin; R Gormley, J Oguz; P Og McCartan 0-1, D Canavan 1-1), M McKearney; J Garrity 0-2), S Og McAleer 0-5 (2f), T Quinn 0-6 (2f).
Subs: C Goodwin for Fox (9), D McGuigan for Goodwin (BC 28), E Jordan 0-1 for McCartan (41), M Conroy 0-2 (1f), for Quinn (47), M Murnaghan for Devlin (57).
Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim).