Tyrone 3-17 Armagh 0-8
Tyrone sauntered through to an All-Ireland football semi-final this evening with the easiest of wins over old rivals Armagh at Croke Park, writes Brendan O'Brien.
This was nothing like the feisty derby many had hoped for, or the jousts they engaged in back in the noughties, and those Armagh supporters caught in the choking traffic on the M1 earlier in the day had double reason to rue this unrewarding trip to Dublin.
Armagh were made to look like every bit like a side that had failed to escape Division Three in the spring, in fact, and Mickey Harte’s top tier Tyrone side now face either reigning champions Dublin or Monaghan in the last four.
Mickey Harte spoke afterwards about how this one had exorcisms some of the ghost from 2016 when his side had left a quarter-final win - or at least a draw - behind them against Mayo and were clearly motivated to atone for that loss from the off here.
First half action from Tyrone vs Armagh in the Senior Football Championship Quarter Final. pic.twitter.com/fFzkGwMQwo— eir Sport (@eirSport) August 5, 2017
Armagh suffered a disastrous first quarter, by the end of which they had conceded 1-5 without managing to register a single score themselves. Not a wise move against a side as adept on the counter as their Ulster neighbours.
Tyrone hit them every which way. They cut through the centre at pace on occasion, demonstrated patience before striking the blow at others, and they were pilfering a fair supply of ball from short Armagh kick-outs too.
Their goal came from just that last source with a turnover leading to possession in the Armagh area for Mark Bradley who was in turn fouled by James Morgan. Peter Harte sent Blaine Hughes the wrong way from the spot.
Armagh finally opened their account after 18 minutes with Niall Grimley banging over a point from a free and their first from open play followed courtesy of centre-back Mark Shields who then went and earned himself a black card four minutes before the break.
Two points from Tyrone followed before they made for the tunnel, leaving them 1-8 to 0-4 in front and well in control. The template had indeed been set and the only business left was for Tyrone to determine the margin of victory.
David Mulgrew, named in the starting 15 but only introduced nine minutes nine minutes into the second-half, did more than anyone to stretch that with two goals, both of them coming from long diagonal balls into his path, and a point.
It was all much too easy and the frustration began to show with Armagh racking up a number of cards in that second-half.
A second half full of incident in Croke Park with a goal and red card for Tyrone. pic.twitter.com/BNq715ZOHQ— eir Sport (@eirSport) August 5, 2017
Two of them, for Stephen Sheridan and Rory Grugan, were black and Jamie Clarke was fortunate not to follow them.
The Crossmaglen forward saw yellow but could have earned at least another, if not a straight red, for a punch to Tiernan McCann’s midriff which he followed up by falling on the prostrate Tyrone defender with his knees.
It sure didn’t look pretty.
The only red actually earned was by the Red Hands, Cathal McCarron earning two yellows in the space of just three minutes down the stretch. A rare sour note for Tyrone as they eased their way further into the August.
Scorers for Tyrone: D Mulgrew (2-1); P Harte (1-2, 1-0 pen); S Cavanagh (0-4, 0-3 frees); M Bradley (0-3); N Morgan (0-2 frees); T McCann, C Cavanagh, D McClure, D McCurry and M Donnelly (all 0-1).;
Scorers for Armagh: R Grugan (0-3, 0-2 frees); M Shields, J Clarke, P Hughes and G McParland (0-1 each); N Grimley (0-1 free).
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, P Hampsey, P Harte; C Cavanagh, D McClure; C McCann, N Sludden, K McGeary; M Bradley, S Cavanagh, M Donnelly.
Subs: D McCurry for McGeary and D Mulgrew for C McCann (both 44): R O’Neill Bradley and R Brennan for McCrory (both 51); R Donnelly for McClure (58); J McMahon for C Cavanagh (59).
Armagh: B Hughes; J Morgan, C Vernon, P Hughes; B Donaghy, M Shields, A Forker; S Sheridan, N Grimley; R Grugan, C O’Hanlon, J McElroy; J Clarke, G McParland, S Campbell. Subs: O O’Neill for O’Hanlon (30); A Duffy for Shields (33); E Rafferty for Campbell (46); B Crealey for McParland (52); C McKeever for Grimley (56); D McKenna for Sheridan (59).
Referee: D Gough (Meath).