By Brendan O’Brien, Croke Park
Dublin 0- 0 Tyrone 1-7
Five late, unanswered points salvaged an unlikely draw for Dublin at HQ against Tyrone this evening and extended to 31 the number of games the reigning league and All-Ireland champions have gone unbeaten.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Mickey Harte’s visitors who negated the many attributes of their hosts for the majority of this Allianz League Division One game before wilting in the face of a concerted comeback with less than ten minutes of normal time to play.
Renowned for their verve and penetration going forward, Dublin struggled to make any headway in the first-half against the Baltic wind that whipped in over Hill 16. They actually finished the half with just three points to their credit.
None of those came from a forward from open play and they probably should have, and would have, been further behind had Tyrone not diluted their own good work with some wayward shooting. Eight times they trailed efforts wide in the opening period.
Good though the visitors were at times, they themselves went 21 minutes of the half without registering a score but a double from roving half-forward Niall Sludden at the back end of proceedings opened up a two-point lead at the interval.
It was a slim enough reward for their efforts and an insignificant gap given the elements they would face on the restart. The only other down side to their night up to then was the black card received by key defender Tiernan McCann.
Scores remained at a premium with just one apiece being claimed in the next twenty minutes but there were still incidents aplenty as the rain continued to sheet down and the first was a penalty awarded to Dublin on 40 minutes.
Sean Cavanagh, on as a half-time sub, was the perp. His lunging tackle on an inrushing Paul Mannion brought the Kilmacud forward to the ground but Dean Rock’s penalty was at just the right height for Niall Morgan to bat away.
Rock atoned somewhat with a free soon after but Tyrone swept upfield to claim the game’s only goal with Declan McClure playing the final pass for Aidan McCrory who slid the ball under Stephen Cluxton to the net.
Any giddiness over what would have gone down as a famous win was tempered five minutes later when Mark Bradley was sent off for making contact with the face of Johnny Cooper as the two players ‘had words’. Any actual contact seemed minimal but the letter of the law was applied.
There were 17 minutes and stoppage time still to go and Tyrone were up by four.
That margin hadn’t changed with an hour having passed but a run of four scores - two Rock frees and efforts from play by Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny - reduced the margin to the minimum as the last handful of minutes kicked in.
Dublin were down to 14 men themselves by then, James McCarthy having been carried off after all six substitutes were used, but the announcement that six extra minutes were to be added on left them with plenty of scope to equalise.
Rock duly did the necessary with his sixth free of the evening after more than 75 minutes.
Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (0-6 frees); P McMahon, J Cooper, B Fenton, C Kilkenny (all 0-1 each).
Scorers for Tyrone: A McCrory (1-0); N Sludden (0-3); P Harte (0-2 frees); C Meyler and D McClure (both 0-1).
Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, M Fitzsimons, J Cooper; J McCarthy, J Small, J McCaffrey; B Fenton, MD Macauley; C Basquel, C Kilkenny, N Scully; D Rock, E O’Gara, P Mannion. Subs: E Lowndes for Basquel (HT); K McManamon for Macauley (44); C Reddin for Mannion and D Byrne for McCaffrey (both 51); J Whelan for Small (57); D Daly for Cooper (59).
Tyrone: N Morgan; P Hampsey, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, A McCrory, J McMahon; C Cavanagh, D McClure; C Meyler, N Sludden, P Harte; D McCurry, M Bradley, C McShane. Subs: R Brennan for McCann (17); S Cavanagh for McShane (HT); J Monroe for McMahon (47); D Mulgrew for Meyler (51); C McCann for McCurry (62).; P McNulty for McClure (72).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).