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We battled well and can hold our heads high: Harte

Tyrone 1-11 Dublin 2-13

By Declan Bogue

Try as Mickey Harte might to put a brave face on things, this latest defeat by Dublin offered only mere crumbs of comfort as the Dubs cruised to a five-point win in Healy Park, despite playing over half an hour a man down.

Niall Scully's second yellow card on 46 minutes should have prompted a Red Hands assault on the three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions.

By that stage they matched Dublin in terms of attacks for the second half, having gone in at half-time ahead by 1-7 to 1-5, but while Dublin reeled off three points, Tyrone shot three poor wides from Richie Donnelly, Peter Harte and Cathal McCarron, and dropped a brace of chances short from Niall Sludden and Declan McClure.

In a nutshell, that is the secret sauce when it comes to the Dubs. They don't waste, hitting a grand total of zero wides in this second half, and only two overall.

Still, as Harte surveyed his second league defeat after the two opening rounds, he stated: "I think we battled well in that game. It was a good response to what happened last week in Tuam. I think the first half we were very good and probably could have been further ahead.

"We had chances galore before we even got the first score of the second half. We missed about 1-7 or 1-8 in the second. Half of that would have made some difference come the end of that game.

"But, we didn't get them. At least we were creating chances, at least we were competitive and I think the players could hold their heads high despite not getting any points out of this."

Dublin manager Jim Gavin, as ever, cut a detached figure afterwards as he surveyed the latest win, warning the rest of the country in his own way that they are only getting going.

"The second half… scored 1-8, no wides," he stated. "We're just back and in some ways, we're in our pre-season. So there will be a lot of tired bodies.

"You've got to be satisfied coming up to this theatre of football and coming away with a result. You've got to be proud of them."

Tyrone got off to a dream start with Cathal McShane notching 1-1 on the board before the first five minutes had elapsed.

Notably, they also flashed five wide in the opening 11 minutes.

They had learned certain lessons from last August's 12-point hammering against the same team in the All-Ireland semi-final. They did not over-commit to pushing up on Dublin's kick out and kept things compact at the back, while forcing the visitors to ping the ball around a bit more rather than have them enjoy it at their leisure.

But the goals conceded ruined them. The first arrived midway through the first half.

Ciaran Kilkenny played a far more advanced role than we have been used to and Brian Fenton's hanging delivery from a free found Kilkenny who used his strength to hold off Aidan McCrory while he palmed the ball down to himself, before stabbing the loose ball home.

The second came from a defensive blunder. There was too much passing from goalkeeper to defender and Colm Basquel nipped in to intercept before setting up fellow replacement Eoghan O'Gara to tap home.

"I suppose it was just a lapse of concentration," was Harte's assessment.

"You might get away with that against a weaker opposition where you make a mistake and they wouldn't grab it, but you don't do that against Dublin. If you make any mistakes you're punished and certainly we were punished for that one."

Although Tyrone were struggling in the third quarter, they were three points down when a flowing move left Connor McAliskey through on goal, only for Stephen Cluxton to save at full stretch. McAliskey made his way back down the pitch shaking his head. You can't miss those chances against Dublin.

It wasn't until the 63rd minute that Tyrone actually got their first score from play in the second half through Niall Sludden. They had plenty of chances, but couldn't get the right man on the end of the move.

Let's bear in mind that this is still the first week in February. The season has a long way to go and Jim Gavin maintains they are only opening up the lungs for a potential four All-Ireland titles in a row.

"We only met up twice this week to prepare for this game and it will be the same as we go through the games," said the Round Towers man.

"The guys just have a great attitude and there's a great intent about what they do and they really just take each game as it comes."


Tyrone: N Morgan; C McLaughlin, C McCarron, HP McGeary; T McCann, P Hampsey, P Harte 0-1; M Donnelly, D McClure; R Donnelly, N Sludden 0-1, A McCrory; L Brennan 0-6, 3f, C McShane 1-1, C McAliskey 0-2

Subs: M McKernan for HP McGeary (22), R McNamee for McCrory (HT), C McCann for McClure (48), R McNabb for McLaughlin (56), F Burns for R Donnelly (56), M Bradley for T McCann (62)

Yellow cards: HP McGeary (19), Harte (29), M Donnelly (30). Black cards: 0. Red cards: 0

Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, M Fitzsimons, D Daly; J Cooper, J McCarthy 0-1, J Small; B Fenton 0-1, MD Macauley; B Howard, C Kilkenny 1-2, N Scully; P Mannion, D Rock 0-4f, K McManamon 0-2

Subs: D Byrne for Small (46), P Andrews for McManamon (51), C Basquel 0-3, 1f, for Mannion (60), E O'Gara 1-0 for Rock (65), S Carthy for McCarthy (68), E Lowndes for Fenton (69)

Yellow cards: Small (29), Scully (30, 46), Cooper (74), Fitzsimons (74). Black cards: 0. Red cards: Scully (46)

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

Attendance: 9,465

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