Down slapped by Red Hands
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Down 0-12. Tyrone 3-11.
PAIRC Esler rocked on Saturday night but it was to the tune of a rampant Tyrone as they too easily brushed aside Down's challenge in the Ulster Championship replay.
The defeat does not mean that manager and James McCartan are back to the drawing board but they do have some soul-searching to do before the All-Ireland Qualifiers on Saturday, June 21.
Having rattled off four unanswered points, half-time game when Down were enjoying their best period but their heads dropped within two-minutes of the restart as Tyrone's Ciaran McGinley struck 1-1. Last week's drawn game seemed to take more out of Down's legs than Tyrone although Mickey Harte made a number of changes from last week to strengthen his side. Most notably Justin McMahon started at full-back and the bright prospect Ronan O'Neill led the attack. McCartan pulled off a surprise by lining Dan Gordon in midfield, his first game for the Mourne County this season, at the expense of Peter Turley and Jerome Johnston started ahead of Ambrose Rogers.
However, even with big Niall Madine helping out Down lost the midfield battle with Tyrone much more forthright in sweeping up the breaking ball, the Mourne defence struggled to cope with Tyrone's lively attack and up front Down failed to click into top gear.
That said Kevin McKernan produced a master-class in pin-point passing and he was unlucky to concede the second half penalty, and perhaps if the spot-kick wasn't awarded to Tyrone the game would have turned out differently.James McCartan is right not to criticise his players but wrong when he says there wasn't eight points between the teams as for the last half hour Tyrone owned the contest and were full value for their victory. That's not to say Down weren't unlucky with a saved penalty and striking the post but Tyrone could have won by more as they struck the woodwork on a few occasions.
In front of a crowd of 16, 000 Down couldn't have asked to be in a better position after a minute when Maginn was pulled back by Tyrone's Peter Harte to earn the Mourne men a penalty.
Like last week Aidan Carr drilled his shot through the middle of goal, but unlike then, the keeper stood his ground and pulled off a save.
It was a setback for Down but it's always better to make a mistake in the first minute than the last. However, Down didn't have long to wait as Conor Laverty grabbed his first point after a swift pass from Donal O'Hare, but Tyrone quickly raced into the lead with a rally of points from Ronan O'Neill, Darren McCurry (free), keeper Niall Morgan, with a 45', and Peter Harte, who was allowed to run 40-metres unchallenged before slotting over. O'Hare converted a free to give Down their second point on 17 minutes but Niall McKenna replied after Down gave away a needless free, with a blundering shoulder charge at the sideline.
The umpire had hardly put his white flag down after O'Hare scored his second point when Tyrone bagged a scrappy goal. Sean Cavanagh's long searching ball bounced awkwardly, escaping the Down defence and despite McKernan sliding in with a tackle Tyrone's Ciaran McGinley struck past Brendan McVeigh to clinch his first goal. Down trailed 0-03 to 1-06 with 27 minutes played but Laverty's close-range point was followed up with a fine point from Maginn after Gordon caught his first kickout of the evening. Gordon then squeezed over a super point after McKernan played a magnificent accurate free to Ryan Boyle who set Gordon up for a score. Tyrone looked to be in for a second goal but Maginn made as crucial tackle to force the ball wide and Donal O'Hare's point ensured only two points were between the teams at the break.
Half-Time: Down 0-07 Tyrone 1-06
The second half was only 42 seconds old when Ciaran McGinnley was left unmarked to close in on goal and strike confidently into the net and a minute later he tagged on a point to give Tyrone a 2-07 to 0-7 lead with only two minutes of the half played.
Saval's Niall Madine kicked a 45' wide and Tyrone's Conor Clarke snuffed out a goal chance from Gordan with an intelligent tackle the goalkeeper Morgan converted his third 45 of the evening.
Tyrone should have went further in front but Cavanagh's placed effort came off the crossbar.
Benny Coulter was on the pitch less than 30 seconds, after replacing Carr, when he slotted over a point leaving only two goals between the sides on 44 minutes.
Ryan Johnston replaced the hard-working Madine on 46 minutes as Down placed their faith in speed.
Donal O'Hare swung over a point after receiving Laverty's pass but it was disaster for Down on 51 minutes when McKenna raced past McCartan before squaring a pass in which McKernan was unluckily judged to have give away a penalty, with a push on McNabb, which Peter Harte converted.
Down needed a rub of the Mourne magic lamp and they almost got it but when Jerome Johnston's daisy-cutter struck the post the signs were there that it would not be Down's night and frustration bubbled to the surface. Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly stretched their lead to nine points with 15 minutes to play and had Peter Harte's shot not struck the post Down would have been blown out of the water. Garvey's point did little to inspire a fightback, whereas Tyrone oozed confidence when McKenna stroked over from 30-metres. O'Hare's two late frees made only a cosmetic change on the scoreboard as Tyrone's Conor McAliskey pointed to seal a comfortable victory for the Red Hands. Down have three weeks to prepare for their next game and they can be confident that one win can build momentum and turn their season around.
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