All-Ireland SFC final: Frantic finish fails to mask Dublin's superiority

Pádraig Ó Meiscill

All-Ireland SFC final: Dublin 2-17 Tyrone 1-14

EVEN taking into account a frantic finish and a promising beginning, Tyrone never really got close to laying a glove on Dublin in this All-Ireland final.

Moments after Peter Harte’s 65th minute penalty goal from Philly McMahon’s foul on Colm Cavanagh, Lee Brennan had the ball in front of the posts, poised to make it a four-point game. He missed and Dublin steadied themselves.

In fairness though, Tyrone giving Dublin even a minor late wobble looked unlikely for the majority of the second period. Although Connor McAliskey and Kieran McGeary both pointed soon after the break, Brian Fenton and Brian Howard, with a brilliant score, replied in kind soon after for the Dubs to restore the difference to seven.

This set a trend as Jim Gavin’s men kept the Red Hands at a comfortable distance, even with the positive introduction of Lee Brennan for Conor Meyler in the 39th minute.

Niall Sludden was struggling and, even with Pádraig Hampsey impressive in defence, Ciarán Kilkenny managed a point either side of Brennan and Mark Bradley points.

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Sludden came off for Frank Burns in the 45th minute, before McGeary was black carded for a shoulder tackle on Brian Fenton after the ball had gone. Harry Loughran replaced him, with McAliskey taken off for Richie Donnelly, who hit a bad wide soon after his introduction to underline Tyrone’s wastefulness throughout the afternoon.

When Kevin McManamon entered the fray for Paul Mannion, Dublin were in procession mode, while Mickey Harte made his final throw of the dice with the hooking of Mark Bradley for Ronan O’Neill.  

Frank Burns had just made it 13 wides on the day for Tyrone when McMahon dragged down Cavanagh in the box and, even though Peter Harte made no mistake, Brennan ensured it was bookended by wastefulness.

The glimmer of hope reemerged when John Small was sent-off soon for a double yellow and Brennan finally managed to make it four-point game, only for McManamon to go straight down the other end and snuff it out again.

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When Mattie Donnelly pointed with a wonderful 60-yard kick when he was intending to put the ball it into the square, it summed Tyrone’s day up: too little, too late. For Dublin, it's four in-a-row with the promise of more to come. 

All-Ireland SFC final half-time: Dublin 2-7 Tyrone 0-6  

A PAUL Mannion penalty turned this game on its head midway through the first-half as Dublin recovered from a shaky start to dominate at Croke Park.

With 21 minutes gone, Tyrone led by three and Dublin looked rattled. Then, Mannion netted superbly from the spot to level matters after Tiernán McCann was yellow carded for a last ditch challenge on the Kilmacud Croke’s man.  

Things had started promisingly for Mickey Harte’s men, with Mark Bradley putting them into the lead in the eighth minute after Peter Harte had levelled matters following Dean Rock’s pointed free in the second minute.

Niall Morgan’s early balls were causing havoc in the middle of the park for Dublin, while Stephen Cluxton was uncharacteristically wasteful with his early ball. A Tiernán McCann point widened the gap to two and, when Connor McAliskey pointed after a Rock wide, a Red Hand win wasn’t looking so outlandish after all.

Then, Ciarán Kilkenny kicked Dublin’s first point in 18 minutes and Mannion levelled from the spot soon after to restore an air of normality at Headquarters.  Rock put Dublin put two in front within as many minutes as the quality of Morgan’s kick-outs deteriorated drastically.

Moments after Cian O’Sullivan was forced to withdraw through a recurrence of his hamstring injury, to be replaced by Michael Fitzsimons, Niall Scully punched to the net as Tyrone’s defence parted like the Red Sea in the face of Dublin’s attacking hordes.   

Tyrone had kicked nine wides by the 34th minute and, when Rock kicked his fifth point of the match in injury-time, the second-half was increasingly looking like a procession for the reigning champions.


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