Louth 1-10 Tyrone 1-18
Tyrone scored a comfortable win over Louth in Drogheda this evening to toss their name into the hat for Sunday’s second round SFC Qualifier draw.
The Red Hands survived a tricky test to move a step closer to a return to mainstream Championship football.
In the process they offered suggestions that they could yet be a force this summer.
Tyrone blossomed after a sluggish opening, hitting points through Martin Penrose, Tommy McGuigan and Sean Cavanagh to open up a three-point lead.
Louth drew level in the 18th minute however with their only score of the first half, a Darren Clarke goal.
Paddy Keenan delivered long for Mark Stanfield to gather and slip a pass inside for Clarke to finish from close range.
That was the trigger for the Red Hands to cut loose with an exhibition of flowing football.
With Brian Dooher getting through an immense amount of work and Brian McGuigan an increasingly creative influence, they cut swathes through a hard-pressed Louth defence.
The points flowed, and by the 25th minute, all six forwards had scored from play, with Colm McCullagh, Brian McGuigan, and Dooher hitting the target.
They then got in for a goal on the half-hour, midfielder Enda McGinley finding the net.
Martin Penrose picked out Brian McGuigan with a superb crossfield pass, and he timed his assist perfectly for McGinley to take at pace and finish low to the net.
There were further scores from Philip Jordan, McCullagh and Cavanagh for a commanding 1-10 to 1-0 interval lead.
The gap could have been greater had Tyrone taken even one of three other goal chances they created, with Mick Fanning, Paddy Keenan and goalkeeper Stuart Reynolds all coming to their side’s rescue.
Louth started the second half with a flourish, Aaron Hoey thumping over a 55-metre free and substitute Brian White getting their first point from play.
Playmaker McGuigan took a delightful pass from younger brother Tommy however to shoot his third point of the contest and settle Red Hand nerves after Clarke had reduced the deficit to seven.
Tommy McGuigan raced through for what would have been a quite special individual goal, had he not dragged his shot just wide at the far post, and another goal chance saw Penrose miss the target.
Tyrone continued to press, and scores from Moy club colleagues Cavanagh and Ryan Mellon added to the mounting tally, with McCullagh bringing his count to five.
Louth were awarded a penalty for a foot block by Philip Jordan, but Shane Lennon blazed his kick over the bar, and that was the end of their challenge.
It was a competent if unspectacular second half display by the Red Hands, who took their collective foot off the pedal in the second half, but still managed to win with something to spare.
They will now be wanting a greater challenge when the draw for the second round of the qualifiers is made this evening, with the games to be played next Saturday.
Louth: S Reynolds, J Neary, M Fanning, J Carr, B McArdle, D Finnegan, R Finnegan, P Keenan, R Carroll, A Reid, A Hoey (0-1, f), D Reid, M Stanfield, S Lennon (0-3, 1 pen), D Clarke (1-3, 1f).
Subs: B White (0-3, 2f)) for Reid (h-t), C Judge for McArdle (57mins), J Murray for Carroll (55), A O’Brien for Finnegan (60)
Tyrone: J Devine, R McMenamin, J McMahon, PJ Quinn, D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan (0-1), R Mellon (0-1), E McGinley (1-1), B Dooher (0-1), B McGuigan (0-3), T McGuigan (0-1), M Penrose (0-1), S Cavanagh (0-4), C McCullagh (0-5, 1f).
Subs: D McCaul for McMenamin (61mins), Joe McMahon for Mellon (63), M McGee for Quinn (63), C Cavanagh for T McGuigan (67), C Holmes for McGinley
Referee: J McKee (Armagh).