Winning league start for Tyrone
Thursday, 9 February 2017
TYRONE made a winning return to Division One of the National Football League, seeing off Roscommon by six points at Healy Park.
They had to recover from a double early setback, conceding a goal to Niall Daly and losing All-Star Mattie Donnelly, who looks likely to miss next weekend's clash with Dublin due to concussion.
The Red Hands played some delightful counter-attacking football, but left themselves open at the back on occasions, and needed a couple of important saves from Mickey O'Neill.
"When you're at home, you always expect a victory and you always want a victory, and we did that, so I'm hoping we can continue that going forward," said midfielder Colm Cavanagh.
“Roscommon started very fast and they could have got a few goals which could have put us on the back foot.
“Lucky enough we had a few good men who made a few good blocks, and we were able to get a few scores and get ahead of them, and ultimately stay ahead of them for the rest of the game.
“The lads worked very, very hard. It's a high intensity game these days and the lads are fit enough to do it, so it's going to be very important to keep that up against Dublin next week, and going forward in the league.
“We got ahead early and were four or five points up, and I suppose that maybe took the sting out of the game a wee bit.
“I think when Roscommon pulled it back to three points, the crowd started to get up at that stage, and you could see the atmosphere lifting."
Cavanagh insisted Tyrone need to be more clinical and cut out unforced errors when the visit Croke Park on Saturday evening.
“Dublin are going to be favourites, there's no doubt about that. They're the champions after all, but we're going to have to up that intensity level, we're going to have to cut out a lot of the mistakes we made, because when we look back at the game, I'm sure there were a lot of unforced errors on our part," he said.
“A lot of passes went astray, a lot of simple things went wrong. We'll have to work on them in training this week, to be fair, and I'm sure we'll do a bit of video work that will hopefully highlight those issues and hopefully we'll improve on them next week."
Sunday's six points win over Roscommon got them off to a positive start, and dictated that an early battle to avoid relegation does not ensue.
“We got two points, and we'll be looking for two points next week, and gradually build that up.
“We get our points on the board, consolidate our position in Division One and see how it goes.
“It was important for us to get the two points. That was our aim, and if you lose the first game, you're always looking over your shoulder for the rest of the campaign. So job done, but obviously more to come."
Roscommon stunned their hosts with a goal after just two minutes. The long ball which was to become a feature of their approach to this league opener paid dividends, with Ultan Harney fetching to lay off for Niall Daly's firmly struck finish past Mickey O'Neill.
Goalkeeper O'Neill was a busy man throughout the first half as he dealt with the high balls raining down on his area, and he was called upon to make s mart save from Ciaran Murtagh, who was also released by full forward Harney.
But the Red Hands were more fluent and accurate in their build-up play from deep, a series of sweeping moves testing the Rossies defence.
Darren McCurry and Peter Harte knocked over points from placed balls as they went in front by the tenth minute.
Despite losing All-Star Mattie Donnelly to a head injury after 15 minutes, the Ulster champions continued to press, with Harte and Niall Sludden playing central roles in their well rehearsed moves.
They moved into a four points lead by the 25th minute, and the Connacht men went 17 minutes without a score, before Donie Smith landed an excellent point.
Once again, a fast-moving Red Hand side got going again, with wing backs Tiernan McCann and Johnny Munroe pushing forward to score, while Harte's fourth, and first from play, sending them in with a 0-10 to 1-2 interval lead.
A couple of Donie Smith points trimmed the deficit, and even when Tyrone responded with scores from Ronan O'Neill, and Sludden, the Rossies were able to respond strongly.
Manager Kevin McStay turned to his bench, and found able warriors in John McManus and Fintan Cregg, who both added in terms of creativity and score-taking as the gap came down to three points with 20 minutes to play.
Tyrone had their own super-subs in Sean Cavanagh and Mark Bradley, the latter ending a 19 minute barren spell with a couple of stylish scores as the home side steadied the ship.
And Niall Sludden capped a highly influential performance with his second score to confirm the result late on.
Tyrone scorers: Peter Harte 0-4 (3 frees), Ronan O'Neill 0-3 (3 frees), Darren McCurry (1 free, 1 '45), Niall Sludden, Mark Bradley 0-2 each, Colm Cavanagh, Tiernan McCann, Johnny Munroe, Conor Meyler, Conall McCann 0-1 each.
Roscommon scorers: Niall Daly 1-0, Donie Smith, Fintan Cregg 0-3 each, John McManus, Niall Kilroy, Conor Devaney 0-1 each.
Tyrone: Mickey O'Neill; Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Tiernan McCann, Mattie Donnelly, Johnny Munroe; Colm Cavanagh, Declan McClure; Conor Meyler, Niall Sludden, Peter Harte; Darren McCurry, Cathal McShane, Ronan O'Neill.
Subs: Aidan McCrory for Donnelly, Mark Bradley for O'Neill, Sean Cavanagh for Munroe, Conall McCann for Meyler, Lee Brennan for McCurry, Cahir McCullagh for Sludden.
Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Thomas Featherston, Niall McInerney; Ronan Stack, Sean Mullooly, Conor Devaney; Kevin Higgins, Tadhg O'Rourke; Niall Daly, Sean McDermott, Enda Smith; Donie Smith, Ultan Harney, Ciaran Murtagh.
Subs: Shane Killoran for Higgins, John McManus for Murray, Fintan Cregg for Daly, Niall Kilroy for Smith, Cian Connolly for Murtagh, Gary Patterson for Smith (68)
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)
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