True, Mickey Harte’s side always had the look of winners, especially in the second half, but this Drogheda tie should have been easier for the Ulster side.
Louth had All Star midfielder Paddy Keenan sent off 15 minutes from time with his side six points down. But instead of kicking on, Tyrone applied the brakes and, had it not been for poor shooting, Louth could have been much closer at the death.
“We fell asleep in the second half. Louth were allowed too many chances and had they taken them we could have been in serious trouble,” said Harte. “We had a great chance to go forward when they were down to 14, but didn’t.”
Tyrone had wind advantage in the opening half but needed a trademark Peter Harte goal and a couple of brilliant John Devine saves, from Adrian Reid and Mark Brennan, to build a 1-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
Harte was part of a half-back line that contributed 2-3, the other goal coming from Damien McCaul. When asked did it concern him that so many scores came from defenders, Mickey Harte was adamant: “I don’t care where they come from.”
He was also keen to say how determined Tyrone are to get out of Division 2. “We failed at the first time of asking, last season, and we don’t want to fail again. It’s a place you don’t want to be. ”
Tyrone were four points clear early in the second half when they were awarded a penalty for a Jamie Carr foul on Mark Donnelly. Peter Harte took it, but could not beat Neil Gallagher.
Four minutes later, in one of many fine sweeping moves, Damian McCaul took possession and rifled to the roof of the net.
Tyrone lacked urgency though, and gritty Louth took advantage, even after the loss of their talisman, keeping the pressure on until the end.
Scorers for Tyrone: P Harte 1-1, D McCaul 1-0, O Mulligan 0-3, K Coney, C McCarron, M Donnelly 0-2 each, M Penrose, N McKenna, P McNiece 0-1 each.
Scorers for Louth: D Maguire 0-3, D Crilly 0-2, R Finnegan, P Keenan, B Donnelly, J McEneaney, B White, D Clarke, M Brennan, A McDonnell 0-1 each.
LOUTH: N Gallagher; G Hoey, D Finnegan, J Carr; R Finnegan, M Fanning, L Shevlin; P Keenan, B Donnelly; D Crilly, A McDonnell, A Reid; D Maguire, R Carroll, M Brennan.
Subs: J McEneaney for Reid, R greene for Fanning, D Clarke for Crilly, B White for Carroll, E O’Connor for Brennan.
TYRONE: J Devine; A McCrory, C Clarke, PJ Quinn; C McCarron, P Harte, D McCaul; N McKenna, Joe McMahon; R McNabb, M Donnelly, S McNiece; K Coney, M Penrose, O Mulligan.
Subs: S Kavanagh for Coney, C Kavanagh for McKenna, R McMenamin for McCaul, Justin McMahon for McCarron.
Referee: G McCormack (Dublin).