A REMORSELESS Tyrone well and truly trounced their old adversaries Donegal by 1-21 to 1-12 in today’s Ulster Championship semi-final at Clones.
Donegal’s cast of talented rookies were expected by many to defeat Tyrone and but Mickey Harte’s men had other ideas, producing a performance that will have the rest of the country on red alert.
Inspired by five-star performances from Colm Cavanagh, Peter Harte, Tiernan McCann and Padraig Hampsey, the Red Hands opened up an unexpected 0-12 to 0-5 advantage by the interval. They pressed for home with McCann’s 37th minute goal and never looked back.
The most wide-eyed Tyrone fan wouldn’t have anticipated a demolition job but Mickey Harte never lost faith in his side’s capacity to surprise during one of the most challenging periods of his 15-year tenure.
The public and plaudits alike have cast the Red Hands as a prototypically dour, defensive side – the type of side with a natural ceiling given its apparent offensive limitations.
They banished that particular stereotypic in a cathartic nine-point victory. 12 Tyrone men dissected the posts against Rory Gallagher’s off-colour side.
Harte said it was a result that was 18 months in the making – and one that will count for nought if they don’t go on to successfully defend their Ulster title against either Monaghan or Down next month.
He said, “I’m an eternal optimist anyway, I’ve been seeing that a long time in coming for the last year and a half. I knew that some day we’d deliver the performance we’re capable of.
“Of course the conditions were suited to us today, we do like the dry sod on a hot day in Clones. You don’t always get that but when they’re there, it’s nice to avail of them.”
He added, “The bottom line is that we’ve played two matches in Ulster and there were no cups handed out on any of those two days. There’s another one to be played. If we at the end of the final don’t have the cup in our hands then this will be a very different result.”
At the same time, this wasn’t the proverbial stroll in the park either. While points glittered like confetti at one end of the pitch, the likes of Tiernan McCann, Padraig Hampsey and Ronan McNamee manned the house at the other, forcing innumerable turnovers.
“It’s easy to sit now and look at the scoreboard and think we had an easy day out. No we hadn’t, we worked very hard for 45-50 minutes and that maybe made the last 15 or 20 not as tense as they might have been.”