Down doomed to defeat by Tyrone turnaround
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
DOWN 1-8 TyRONE 1-11.
A SECOND-HALF fight-back from Tyrone condemned Down to defeat in their opening Division One fixture of the National League.
Down were completely dominant in the first half and were markedly better than their two point lead at the break indicated. However, in the second half, the Mourne men visibly tired while Tyrone grew stronger and even when reduced to 14 men, Tyrone were able to comfortably outplay the home team in the final minutes.
The match was played with an intensity usually lacking in games at this time of year which is some indication as to how competitive Division One is shaping up to be in 2013. Down's running, passing and tackling in the first half were impressive while Tyrone's stamina in the second was admirable. There were some tough clashes on the pitch and along the side-line, with 15 yellow cards being issued over the duration of the game.
Both sides finished with 14 men but Conor Laverty's dismissal, which came as a result of two bookings, only happened in the dying minutes. Tyrone's Joe McMahon was sent off for two yellow cards with 15 minutes left to play when the game was level. Rather than deflating Tyrone though, the sending-off appeared to galvanise them as they hit three unanswered points to take the league points on offer back to Tyrone.
Despite defeat, there were positives for Down to take from their performance. Ryan Mallon made a particularly strong League debut before being withdrawn and the fluidity of some of Down's attacks would give even the most pessimistic of fans hope for survival.
The game began at a frenetic pace and Sean Cavanagh pointed a free in the first minute to put Tyrone in front. Benny Coulter levelled for Down after being fed by Kevin McKernan but Tyrone soon edged back in front through Conor McAlliskey.
At that point Down took complete control of the game and Tyrone struggled to get out of their own half. Coulter was at the heart of Down's attacks while Connaire Harrison kept Conor Gormley's hands full. Harrison scored an instinctive point to level the game before Donal O'Hare edged Down in front with a well taken free.
Benny Coulter stretched Down's lead with the finest point of the night. It was a great passing movement which involved Mark Poland, Conor Laverty and Harrison and which was finished with some aplomb by Coulter. O'Hare converted another free to push Down into a three point lead. Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan then converted a free from 45 metres to reduce the arrears but Down were rampant.
Ryan Mallon's surging runs out of defence typified what was so good about Down's performance in the first half and his two points in quick succession were just reward for his attacking endeavour. It meant that Down had a commanding four-point lead after 28 minutes.
Conor McAlliskey eventually responded for Tyrone but the visitors were lucky not to have conceded a goal. Only a heroic block by Cathal McCarron prevented Benny Coulter's goal-bound shot from flying into the top corner.
The last five minutes of the first half proved to be crucial though. Tyrone introduced Conor Clarke as a substitute and he exerted a considerable influence on the game. Before the break Tyrone were able to reduce the arrears to just two points when Morgan converted another long free.
Down held Tyrone scoreless for two separate 10 minute periods in the first half but still found themselves only two points up on their opponents. Within 30 seconds of the re-start Stephen O'Neill had reduced those arrears to a solitary point. Donal O'Hare did point a free on 40 minutes but Down were not nearly as fluid in the second half as they had been in the first.
The game became punctuated with free-kicks, some of which looked innocuous and some of which were downright dangerous. Joe McMahon saw yellow for blocking Keith Quinn's run on 42 minutes and he saw his second on 55 minutes when he fouled substitute Paul McComiskey off the ball. By that stage Tyrone were level with Down.
Stephen O'Neill and the increasingly influential Conor Clarke had drawn the Red Hands level before Tyrone took the lead briefly with a goal. A hashed clearance from defence presented Tyrone with possession deep in Down territory. Martin Penrose picked out McAlliskey who in turn fed Mark Donnelly who smashed the ball beyond Michael Cunningham.
Down's response was immediate though. A long ball into the area was won by Connaire Harrison and Down were able to square the ball to O'Hare who palmed home from close range on 51 minutes.
Unfortunately for Down it proved to be their last score of the game as Tyrone took over. When McMahon received his marching orders it seemingly made Tyrone stronger. Clarke and Cavanagh's incisive running became a huge problem for the Down defence, some of whom were visibly injured.
There was no escaping that Tyrone were in the ascendancy and when Clarke, Cavanagh and an excellent score from O'Neill put Tyrone three in front, Down never looked capable of getting back into the game.
Down's misery was compounded when Conor Laverty saw a second yellow card in injury time for an off-the-ball challenge. The game ended shortly after the sending-off which was then followed by a skirmish on the side-line. Down may have been defeated but they went down fighting and they will need to have the same desire this weekend when they travel to take on All-Ireland champions Donegal.
DOWN: Michael Cunningham, Damian Turley, Daniel McCartan, Ryan Boyle, Ryan Mallon (0-2), Aidan Carr, Brendan McArdle, Kalum King, Kevin McKernan, Keith Quinn, Mark Poland, Brendan Coulter (0-2), Conor Laverty, Connaire Harrison (0-1), Donal O'Hare (1-3, 3f) (Subs) Owen Costello for Damian Turley (28 mins), Paul McComiskey for Kalum King (50), Conor Garvey for Ryan Mallon (51), Peter Turley for Keith Quinn (57) Ryan Kelly for Mark Poland (63).
TYRONE: Niall Morgan (0-2, 2f), Aidan McCrory, Conor Gormley, Cathal McCarron, Ryan McKenna, Joe McMahon, Ronan McNamee, Justin McMahon, Sean Cavanagh (0-2, 2f), Kevin Gallagher, Peter Harte, Matthew Donnelly, Conor McAlliskey (0-2), Stephen O'Neill (0-3, 1f), Mark Donnelly (1-0) (Subs) Conor Clarke (0-2) for Ronan McNamee (30 mins), Martin Penrose for Kevin Gallagher (45), Ronan O'Neill for Conor McAlliskey (59) Patrick McNiece for Mark Donnelly (70).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)
Send to a friend
Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.