QUELLE surprise, Dublin won by a smattering of scores at Healy Park today, but is anyone particularly surprised or even bothered?
When news filtered through on Friday night that Mickey Harte had decided to field an entirely fresh line-up to the one which did the business against Cork, our worst suspicions were confirmed – a non-event was in store.
Jim Gavin responded in kind as he made six changes prior to throw-in (see ya next time, Brian Fenton, Jack McCaffrey, Stephen Cluxton and all the rest of the gang), but at least we got a competitive contest even though both teams were already assured of their place in the All-Ireland semi-finals.
It was one of those sort of games were subplots seemed of exponential more significance than the actual narrative of the game.
No matter what you think of him, Diarmuid Connolly is undoubtedly one of the finest players of this or any generation, and he made his long-awaited return after nearly two years in the wilderness.
The chants of ‘Dermo’ rang out from by the endearingly jocular Dublin supporters who had once again formed a makeshift Hill 16 at the Gortin Road end, and a goal he scored during the warm-up was greeted with as must gusto as some of the scores during the actual match. Even a late black card didn’t detract from what had been a fine comeback from the mercurial St Vincent’s man.
As for Tyrone, well, the main thing was that they came through the match unscathed. Tiernan McCann, Padraig Hampsey and Richie Donnelly accrued much-needed game-time, but a few fringe players did themselves no harm whatsoever, with Benny Gallen, Conan Grugan, Kyle Coney and David Mulgrew all performing well.
It was an evenly balanced contest throughout, albeit Dublin led the way for the vast majority of proceedings. Conall McCann was denied by the crossbar in the second-half and a late Eoghan O’Gara goal ensured a somewhat comfortable victory for the Dubs.
Tyrone, meanwhile, have seven days to prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry. What a match that will be.
Pick up tomorrow’s Tyrone Herald for a full match report, reaction and player ratings.