Tyrone boss Brian Dooher slams performance after 21-point loss to Dublin

“Call it for what it is – a bit of an embarrassment”

Colm Basquel scores Dublin's first of five goals against Tyrone
Dublin v Tyrone - Allianz Football League Division 1 Colm Basquel scores Dublin's first of five goals, in the 13th minute, despite the attention of Kieran McGeary of Tyrone during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Shauna Clinton/Sportsfile (Shauna Clinton / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Allianz Football League Division One, round seven

Dublin 5-18 Tyrone 0-12

“CALL it for what it is – a bit of an embarrassment. It just wasn’t good enough, and we know that.”

Tyrone joint-boss Brian Dooher typically pulled no punches after his side suffered this humiliating hammering from a rampant Dublin.

Sure, the Red Hands had nothing really to play for – and that showed – with only a 15-point victory giving them any pre-match chance of reaching the League Final. Instead Dublin ruthlessly confirmed their place in the decider against Derry by winning by even more, 21 points clear at the end.

How good were Dublin? How bad were Tyrone?

Very and very the minimum answers to those questions.

Tyrone manager Brian Dooher
Tyrone's Brian Dooher at the start of the Allianz Football Division one Round Three game between Tyrone and Galway at O'Neills Healy Park Omagh on 02-18-2024.

“Dublin were very good, don’t get me wrong,” acknowledged Dooher. “Dublin are good. They are not All-Ireland champions for nothing and they are getting better.”

That certainly appeared to be the case with this destruction, Allstar Colm Basquel grabbing a brace of goals with Niall Scully, Cian Murphy, and Lorcan O’Dell also finding the net.

As for Tyrone, their goalkeeper Niall Morgan actually played well, and received praise from the Dublin fans on Hill 16 after kicking a late point.

The problem was that most of those in white and red in front of him let themselves down badly.

It didn’t help that Tyrone’s scoring star of this campaign, Darragh Canavan, didn’t feature, nor did former captain Padraig Hampsey, with the latter’s successor as skipper, Peter Harte, plus Conn Kilpatrick and Michael McKernan, among those still ruled out by injury.

However, Dooher was scathing in his assessment of his team overall, saying: “There’s no point making excuses, it’s just not where we need to be.

“For one reason or another, we just weren’t at the races there, and we were punished every time we made errors, well and truly punished for it, and rightly so.

“I’m not going to say there’s excuses for it, because there isn’t. it wasn’t good enough - disappointing in our application, and our general intensity and work-rate wasn’t near where it should be.”

Of course, it has to be acknowledged that Dublin were excellent, full of industry and innovation. Hunting in packs, from defence to attack, they swarmed everywhere over the Red Hands, ravenous for the ball and ever keen to stick it into the net.

Dublin were due a win in this fixture, having not defeated Tyrone here in the League since the 2013 Final, but they more than made up for that wait with this thrashing.

The outcome of a home victory wasn’t a shock but Tyrone were left shell-shocked by the margin.

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell leaves the pitch after beating Derry during the National Football League match played at Celtic Park in Derry on Saturday 2nd of March 2024. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell leaves the pitch after beating Derry during the National Football League match played at Celtic Park in Derry on Saturday 2nd of March 2024. Picture Margaret McLaughlin (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

With Dessie Farrell selecting Basquel instead of John Small, Dublin’s attacking intent was clear, with an array of forward talent on show in blue.

The tone for the day was set within the opening 15 seconds. Dublin won possession from the throw-in, and the ball was kicked in long to O’Dell, who spun his marker but his goal-bound shot was kept out by a flying save from Morgan.

Dublin appeared to be playing at their leisure, but it was effort turning into ease, constant running that took them repeatedly past Tyrone men into space and positions of danger.

The first goal came in the 13th minute when Brian Fenton appeared in the right corner, dollied a cute kick-pass to Con O’Callaghan, and he supplied Basquel for a very easy goal.

Whereas Dublin retained possession so well, if you were being kind you’d describe Tyrone’s kicking into their forwards as ‘hopeful’; ‘hopeless’ might have been more accurate.

In contrast, Dublin were executing the skills of the game superbly. Scully drilled a kick-pass into the ‘D’ and O’Callaghan soared high to take a mark, which he converted.

Tyrone tried to get going but a Joe Oguz kick was blocked down by Murphy, who was dubiously denied a breakaway into a clear half of space.

Darren McCurry did deliver a rarity, not just a Tyrone score but one off his right foot, but that was a brief shaft of light for the visitors.

Aodhan Donaghy’s burst through gave Niall Devlin a sight of goal, but the Coalisland lad’s poked shot lacked power and Sean McMahon was able to get back and clear it away from the goal-line.

Another opportunity was wasted when Ruairi Canavan caught a kick-pass but, declining the potential mark, shot instantly – and wide.

Even in injury time Dublin did not ease up, at either end. First their defence harried Red Hands at every turn, denying them another score.

Then they broke in numbers, Basquel able to find both O’Callaghan and Scully clear in front of goal, with the former passing to the latter to blast high to the net.

That left it 2-11 to 0-6 at half-time, but if a response was anticipated from Tyrone it didn’t come.

Instead Dublin ramped up the pressure and, 10 minutes in, reeled off two goals inside the same minute.

The brilliant O’Dell was involved in both, first teeing up impressive defender Murphy to roll in a simple ground shot. Within 60 seconds he was the assister again, this time for Basquel, yet another counter-attack concluding with a goal.

Ruairi Canavan kicked two points in Tyrone's win over Kerry
Ruairi Canavan Ruairi Canavan

Ruairi Canavan, who showed some spirit in the second half, broke Tyrone’s duck after the break – but Dublin just went up the other end and goaled again, Scully supplying O’Dell to blast a deserved major score himself.

Twenty points ahead, the remaining 20 minutes of play, plus added time, petered out. Dublin were so dominant they even took Fenton off at his earliest stage ever.

The concern for everyone else seeking to take ‘Sam’ off them is that Farrell confirmed Stephen Cluxton, Michael Fitzsimons, and James McCarthy should all be back for Championship. Jack McCaffrey and the Small brothers weren’t in this match-day panel either.

Tyrone aren’t anywhere near that All-Ireland conversation – but they will have plenty to talk about and worry themselves about over the weeks ahead.

Dublin: E Comerford; S McMahon (0-1), D Newcombe, E Murchan; C Murphy (1-0), B Howard, T Lahiff; B Fenton, K McGinnis (0-3); R McGarry (0-3), L O’Dell (1-2), C Kilkenny; C Basquel (2-3, 0-1 mark), C O’Callaghan (0-4, 0-1 mark, 0-1 free), N Scully (1-0).

Substitutes: T Clancy for Newcombe (46); P Mannion (0-2) for O’Callaghan (47); P O Cofaigh Byrne for Fenton (49); B O’Leary for Kilkenny (53); C O’Connor for Murchan (60);

Blood sub: S Forker for Lahiff (67-end).

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-2, 0-1 free); C Devlin, N McCarron, A Clarke; B Cullen, K McGeary (0-1), N Devlin; B Kennedy, A Donaghy; J Oguz, C Cush, L McGarrity (0-1); D McCurry (0-2, 0-1 free), R Canavan (0-4, 0-1 free), C McShane (0-2).

Substitutes: Tarlach Quinn for McCarron (h-t); M Donnelly for Cush (h-t); S O’Donnell for McGeary (48); C Daly for McShane (48); Tiernan Quinn for McCurry (54).

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).