Dublin 2-13 Tyrone 1-11
TYRONE huffed and puffed but eventually ran out of steam against All-Ireland champions Dublin at Healy Park on Saturday night.
Omagh’s traffic system was pushed to the limit as more than 9,000 spectators descended on Healy Park with a surprisingly strong Dublin contingent in attendance.
As per tradition, the city slickers set up residence at the Gortin Road end, turning it into a makeshift Hill 16.
The scores of floodlight-illuminated replica jerseys added much-needed colour on an otherwise drab February night.
Things haven’t been quite so radiant from a Tyrone perspective.
The spectre of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final no-show against Dublin, allied to their disappointing league opener against Galway, placed Mickey Harte’s charges under severe pressure heading into Saturday evening’s game.
While their love affair with the blanket defence shows no sign of coming to an end, they produced an improved performance, particularly in the opening 35 minutes.
Early on they forced umpteen turn-overs at the back, while Lee Brennan and Connor McAliskey formed a telepathic partnership up front.
Brennan was in sensational form throughout. His place-kicking from a squelchy surface beneath a swirling breeze was impeccable, and he finished his day with six points – three from play, three from frees.
But some of Tyrone’s old failings came back to haunt them, however, going 28 minutes without scoring in the second-half as Dublin clawed back a 1-7 to 1-5 deficit at the break.
After the match, Mickey Harte said the players should hold their heads high after a spirited showing.
“We missed around 1-7 or 1-8 in the second half,” rued Harte.
“That would’ve made some difference in the outcome but at least we were competitive and I think the players can hold their heads high despite the fact they didn’t get the points.”
See today‘s Tyrone Herald for full coverage of Tyrone v Dublin